Patsy Tatum, a 5-year breast cancer survivor from Warren, joined more than 140 five-year cancer survivors on June 10, for Celebrate Life, an annual day of empowerment and celebration conceived by Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center.
This was the 28th year that CTCA at Midwestern has held Celebrate Life, and a record number of patients and caregivers participated to mark the occasion.
Tatum, 58, and the other celebrants, representing 32 states, including Hawaii, were transported to the event on Coach buses and escorted, with lights flashing, by members of the Zion, Illinois Fire-Rescue Department. Upon arrival, the celebrants stepped on to a red carpet, lined on both sides with hundreds of supporters comprised of family, friends, doctors, nurses and members of the community.
The survivors united as a group for inspirational opening remarks before participating in a commemorative tree planting ceremony. Every year, a tree is planted in honor of each 5-year cancer survivor, providing the nation with a forest of life-giving trees that represent cancer survivorship. Each survivor is also honored with an engraved gold leaf, which is proudly displayed on one of four blossoming “Trees of Life” located within the hospital.
“Patients and families who come to CTCA do so with a great sense of hope,” said Scott Jones, president and CEO of CTCA at Midwestern. “We honor, respect and share in that hope year-round. We especially look forward to the month of June, when we get the privilege of celebrating with our five-year survivors during Celebrate Life. This day is a testament to the strength and perseverance of all cancer survivors.”
As celebrants and their families enjoyed the festivities, they shared stories of survivorship with one another and took time to visit patients within the hospital who are in the midst of their cancer journey, offering words of hope and support. Many also reflected on moments they’ve been able to share with their family, or how they view life through a new lens due to their cancer journey.
“Being a five-year celebrant, I now live for the big things, the exciting things, while always appreciating the little things,” said Tatum. “I appreciate life more – and in doing so I’ve gotten the opportunity to spend many more precious years with my family, who were my rock and support system throughout my journey.”
Before the day concluded, each celebrant and their guests enjoyed a gourmet lunch prepared by the culinary team at CTCA, during which time more stories were shared, friendships were formed, and memories were made.