For cancer survivors and their loved ones, June 6 was a day to celebrate life and enjoy some ice cream at the Smithview Pavilion in Maryville.
The “Scoops and Salutes” event was in conjunction with National Cancer Survivor’s Day. The 13th annual event was sponsored locally by Blount Memorial Hospital, said Jennie Bounds, director of marketing and public relations for Blount Memorial.
“Cancer survivors inspire anyone, regardless if you are a one-year survivor or a 50-year survivor. Regardless of where you had your treatment, you are still a survivor,” Bounds said. “A lot of survivors make this event because it gives them way another way to mark their journey. It’s just a fun event for cancer survivors and their loved ones who have cared for them.”
Cancer survivor Barbara Bailey, who is a ventriloquist, presented a short presentation to the audience with her “partner” Jerry, who quickly gave Bailey a hard time about her age. “You’re so old, everything that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work,” Bailey said through Jared.
WATE-TV meteorologist Matt Hinkin was master of ceremonies for the event. “Cancer touches almost everyone’s life in one way or another,” Hinkin said. “My father passed away from cancer in 1992.”
Dr. Albert Petty, Blount Memorial Cancer Center medical director, said he is proud to be a Tennessean, but said the state’s residents are lagging behind the country in at least one area. “There’s one thing I’m not proud of,” he said. “Tennessee has the fifth highest death rate from cancer in the country,” he said.
While cancer rates in Blount County are stable, the doctor said that statewide, residents must do a better job participating in screening programs and smoking cessation initiatives.
Fred Forster, who is retiring as CEO of the Blount Chamber Partnership at the end of the month, is a cancer survivor. He reminded those gathered the significance of the anniversary of the D-Day invasion on that date in 1944. “We’re all survivors and have received the benefits of the operation called D-Day, when 160,000 troops went ashore at Normandy to begin the end of World War II,” he said.
William Brown of Maryville said he was recently notified he was free of cancer after two and a half years of treatment. “It means the world to me,” he said of the Scoops and Salutes celebration.
Shirley Henry is a cancer survivor and appreciated those who organized the event. “I love life so much, and I’m so thankful for life,” she said. “God has been good.”
Leslie O’Connor of Maryville said she is in the midst of her second bout with cancer. “It’s really important to be around other people who encourage and support you,” she said.
Dorothy Hanle of Maryville said her cancer has been in remission five years in October. She said after being diagnosed, her approach to life changed. “You realize life is more precious than ever,” she said. “When you are told you have cancer, everything is taken out of your hands, and you turn it over to the Lord and take it one day at a time.”