More Than 200 Attend Tanner’s ‘Celebration of Life’
Posted Date: 1/27/2012
A crowd of more than 200 cancer survivors and their guests braved stormy weather Thursday night to turn out for Tanner Health System’s third annual Celebration of Life at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton.
The event is Tanner’s annual celebration for local cancer survivors – both those who received their treatment at Tanner, as well as those who received care elsewhere.
Keynote speaker, comedian and juggler Scott Burton, who was diagnosed with cancer in his thighbone in his 30s and underwent a procedure to replace part of his thigh with bone from a cadaver, discussed the awkwardness of making jokes about cancer.
“Laughter is such a good foundation to express what we’re going through,” said Burton. “I never thought it was inappropriate to make jokes about my cancer. Laughter reminds us that we’re alive.”
With heavy rain falling outside the auditorium where the event was held, Burton said, “I’ve heard several of you complaining about the weather out here, but let me tell you something: I’m from Minnesota, so, stop it. In Minnesota, we have a state motto: ‘It’s cold, but it keeps out the riffraff.’ There are very few muggings when it’s 30 below.”
Burton also commented on how seriously the community takes Tanner’s annual honor for cancer survivors.
“I know you take this seriously, because so many of you dressed up for the evening,” said Burton. “And, a lot of you tried.”
Burton entertained survivors and their guests with stories of his cancer treatment and survival, how his family coped with his cancer, and a juggling and balancing act that included grabbing a small, round table for guests and balancing it on his chin.
In opening remarks, J. Richard Bland, MD, medical director of Tanner’s Roy Richards, Sr. Cancer Center, thanked Tanner’s leadership and the community for supporting a cancer program that has grown into one of the best in the Southeast.
“I’ve been at Tanner for more than 20 years,” said Dr. Bland. “In that time, the biggest change I’ve seen is that we’re treating cancers now that were basically impossible to treat 20 years ago.”
Tanner President and CEO Loy Howard saluted the physicians and clinical staff who help people overcome cancer at Tanner.
“Cancer care is a team effort,” he said, recognizing the Tanner staff present who help care for cancer patients. “It takes a lot of people to beat cancer.”
Howard said Tanner had set out on a mission about the time Dr. Bland joined its cancer center, two decades ago, to set a new standard for care in west Georgia.
“We set a goal to be a true regional health system and a leader in quality,” Howard said. “We’re growing, adding new services. We just added a new one yesterday, with the opening of the Tanner MS Center in Villa Rica.”
In his invocation, the Rev. Joe Neal discussed how he faced his own diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2008, and how his faith helped him in that battle.
“When the doctor told me I had cancer, I guess he expected me to fall out in the floor,” said Neal. “But I didn’t. I just sat there. So, there we were, sitting there looking at each other. He asked if I was OK, and I said, ‘As soon as you told me I had prostate cancer, I sent that to the Big House. Now, I’m just waiting for my orders.’”
In his prayer, Neal gave thanks for having a cancer program in his community.
“We are so glad that we have such a cancer center, and I thank God for their staff. I thank God for their experience and expertise, and I thank God for the way they treat people,” Neal said. “We thank You for a place we can go when we’re down, to be reassured and know that everything is alright.”
David Shepard, MD, a medical oncologist with Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers and Tiffany Cooke, MD, MPH, a board-certified psychiatrist with West Georgia Behavioral Health also spoke at the event. Carol Jackson, with piano accompaniment from Jan Adams, performed a special rendition of “Memories” from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Cats,” with lyrics tailored for those who’ve experienced “chemo brain.”
For more information on cancer services at Tanner, click Services.