Dancing at the survivor's day picnic

More than 250 cancer survivors along with their family members, friends and caregivers from throughout the greater Sacramento region celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day with a picnic on Saturday, May 31, 2008 at UC Davis Cancer Center. In addition to artwork by cancer survivors from throughout the nation, the event featured food graciously donated by Outback Steakhouse, informational booths from community groups providing cancer-related services and lively music by Blaine Davis, also known as the "Sundance Kid – Musical Wizard of the West."

At the event, a group of student volunteers known as the "pink ladies" from St. Francis High School donated a basket of pink rubber ducks to be given to cancer patients. Each duck had a positive and inspiring message written on the bottom. The idea behind the project is to "let the emotions of having cancer roll off you like water off a duck's back!"

During the week leading up to the picnic, the cancer center offered several other free events for survivors including a session on stress reduction, a course on using the Internet for cancer resources and an evening of bowling and music for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.

"We are committed to supporting cancer patients throughout their treatment and beyond, since the emotional and physical paths their lives take from diagnosis onward are profound," said Ralph deVere White, director of UC Davis Cancer Center. "We are thrilled to honor all survivors for their inspiration to our research teams, who are finding causes and improved treatments for all forms of this disease. And we are committed to providing them with the full range of support that they need."

Face-painting was avaialbe at the picnic

Terri and Art Williamson drove to the picnic from Stockton. The trip between the cancer center and their central California home is a familiar one for the couple. It is a journey they made every day for radiation, chemotherapy or PIC line flushes over the course of 4-1/2 months during Art's treatments for brain and lung cancer. At the time he was diagnosed in Stockton, he was given six months to live. UC Davis Cancer Center team felt they could extend that time for him and, so far, they have. At the picnic, he celebrated 2-1/2 years as a survivor, and the chance to enjoy the event with his two young grandchildren.

"I'd make the daily trip to Sacramento again," said Art, joking that the price of gas today wouldn't deter him a bit. "The nurses and doctors at the cancer center made my experience much better than expected, and I am grateful for their dedication to their profession. They truly make their patients feel that they care."

National Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated each year in hundreds of communities throughout North America. Typically held the first weekend in June, the event honors the nation's 10.5 million cancer survivors and demonstrates that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality. At UC Davis Cancer Center, survivors day is part of a comprehensive Outreach Research and Education Program that is dedicated to reducing cancer health disparities, enriching the lives of patients and their families, and supporting those interested in learning more about cancer risks, preventions, early detection and research.

To participate in next year's survivors day picnic, call (916) 734-0823 or e-mail survivorsweek@ucdavis.edu.