Cancer survivors celebrate courage, strength at Bristol Hospital's 'Celebrating You! 2018' event

Published on Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:37


BRISTOL - “I’m proud to be standing here as your host and also as a cancer survivor,” said Mary Lynn Gagnon, executive director of the Bristol Hospital Development Foundation. “That’s the first time I have said that out loud in public.”

Gagnon hosted “Celebrating You! 2018,” an annual event by Bristol Hospital’s Cancer Care Center and Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness to celebrate cancer survivorship. Her declaration drew applause from the audience.

“There are many patients here that are on their journey of surviving cancer and this is a big celebration for all of their courage and resiliency throughout their journeys,” explained Jeannie Robbins, clinical service line director for the Beekley Center and the Cancer Care Center. “We have over 65 attendees and everybody has their own story.”

The hospital has many community outreach events throughout the year, including skin cancer screenings and lung cancer screenings, but this is the big night for celebration, she said.

“I’m very proud that Bristol Hospital delivers state of the art comprehensive cancer care to our surrounding communities,” Robbins said. “Happily, more people are surviving cancer than ever before - 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United State alone, and millions across the globe. And tonight is all about you. We celebrate your courage, your resiliency, and your strength on each one of your individual journeys.”

“As I look around the room I am full of hope and inspiration,” Gagnon said. “Each and every one of you has a unique story. You were given a diagnosis. You worked with your team of physicians to come up with a treatment plan. You were hopefully surrounded by so many friends and family as you went through treatment, towards remission and good health.

“I am so energized by all of you in the room because now you sit here as a cancer survivor, you are a force to be reckoned with and you deserve a round of applause,” she continued.

Gagnon said about a year ago she was diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), and her treatment plan consisted of a mastectomy and reconstruction on one breast. She counted herself lucky that she was able to take a hormone therapy pill and didn’t have to go through chemotherapy or radiation.

The program featured five speakers: Sophie Whitlock, certified registered nurse in hospice and palliative care of Bristol Hospital Home and Palliative Care Programs, on “Moving Forward with Optimism;” Jessica Mirkin, certified registered dietician and nutritionist for Inpatient and Outpatient Services, on Health Diet and Nutrition; Rebecca Colasanto, licensed clinical social worker and system director of Behavioral Health, on “Managing Your Emotions;” Sheryl Harle, Livestrong at the YMCA program coordinator, instructor, and trainer, and cancer exercise specialist, on “Reclaiming Your Health;” and Chaplain Ken Smith on “Spirituality and Hope.”

Afterward there was a question and answer period with Robert Black, MD, medical oncologist and medical director of Cancer Care Center, and Sai Varanasi, MD, breast surgeon and medical director of Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness.

For more information about Bristol Hospital’s cancer programs, visit

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General News on Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:37. Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:39.