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Queens Chronicle

Cancer survivors gather to celebrate

North Shore LIJ welcomes families

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Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Thu Jun 19, 2014.

For cancer survivors, they have faced the odds and came out on top. It’s sometimes a painful, arduous journey, but to survive it brings joy and happiness.

To help celebrate the survivors, North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital in New Hyde Park spent a day recognizing those survivors. Close to 100 families gathered last Saturday, where they danced, talked and celebrated one another’s success of beating the disease.

One of the speakers was colon cancer survivor Ed Sweeney, 47, of Bayside, a speech language pathologist for the Department of Education. He visited the doctor for a routine physical and his blood work came back abnormal. The tests revealed he had colon cancer.

“I didn’t do this alone,” Sweeney said. “I had a great support system. I had advice from everyone along the way.”

After he had surgery to remove the polyp and chemotherapy, Sweeney didn’t lay around. He booked a trip to Las Vegas. “We lost more money on that trip than any other,” he joked. “But we had fun.”

The featured speaker of the day was Jane Brody, a health and fitness writer for The New York Times and best-selling author, who is a survivor of breast cancer. She was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, but she didn’t slow down on the physical activity. She continued her passion for swimming, playing tennis and traveling.

“I think the message that I’m going to give people is not about cure, it’s about living,” she said. “Not all cancers can be cured. What are you doing to do in the meantime? You’re going to live to the highest level you can.”

Another survivor was Iris Peek, 72, from Fresh Meadows. A retired bookkeeper and accountant, she beat breast cancer twice and lung cancer. A smoker for 54 years, she has now quit. She credits her faith for helping her survive three bouts of cancer.

“He knew I could survive,” Peek said. “I felt God gave me the strength to pull through.”

She said the best advice she could give anyone was to listen to what your doctors tell you and “don’t stop living.”

Dr. Thomas Bradley, an oncologist in kidney, testicular and prostate cancer at LIJ, said he enjoyed seeing the survivors. “It’s a time for them to celebrate and that they are capable of celebrating: another milestone.”

He tells his patients to live life to the fullest. “Many patients who have been treated for cancer live under a shadow of the risk of recurrence,” the oncologist said. “And I advise them to live each day as if they didn’t have cancer so they can have the greatest fulfillment.”

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