LOCAL CANCER SURVIVORS SHARE THEIR STORIES
In 1995 the National Breast Cancer Coalition offered to bring a traveling display to UM Charles Regional Medical Center. The display would profile 50 women, one from each state, who had lost their lives to breast cancer. Instead the hospital decided to feature women who had lived through the disease, largely because they were pro-active. It was believed that stories of survival would motivate women to seek potentially life saving early detection exams.
So it was that Surviving Cancer: A Photographic Essay was created. Thirty women from five southern Maryland counties agreed to be photographed and to tell their stories of discovery, coping, support and recovery. Their portraits and quotes from these interviews were assembled in a free standing exhibit and featured in the St. Charles Towne Center in October – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Local organizations, support groups and health-related businesses provided educational information to people who came into the “mall” and viewed the exhibit. The exhibit remained on display for 13 days.
What was to be a one time exhibit in 1995 was repeated for many years and featured new participants or “survivors” each year. Over the years UM Charles Regional began featuring prostate and colon cancer survivors as well as breast cancer survivors. These cancers have been shown to have increased survival rates when detected, diagnosed and treated early. In addition, the exhibit now “travels” to several locations in the county during October and November.
Now in its 14th year, the photographic exhibit officially opened on October 4 in its new “home”, UM Charles Regional Medical Center. A reception was held to honor this year’s 29 local survivors of breast, colon or prostate cancer. More than 400 participants have been interviewed and photographed since the event debuted in 1995.
As Sheila Wise, a five-year breast cancer survivor said when being interviewed as a participant this year: “I saw this exhibit before I had cancer and thought how nice it was, what a great thing. But I never thought I’d be in it.”
Surviving Cancer: A Photographic Essay was on display in UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s front lobby, 5 Garrett Avenue, La Plata, October 4-13. It was then moved to the Jazzercise Fitness Center, Hughesville to exhibit from October 13-20. The exhibit may also be seen at the Richard R. Clark Senior Center, October 20-27; the Charles County Government Building October 27-November 3; the Charles County Department of Health November 3-10; and at UM Charles Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department lobby from November 10-17.
Plan to stop by one of the above locations to view this inspirational and motivational exhibit of courage and candor by persons who have experienced this life-threatening disease. They have agreed to share their experience to give hope and encouragement to those who may be newly diagnosed, or fearful of a cancer diagnosis.