‘Celebrating Cancer Heroes’ event seeks nominations

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By Anne-Gerard Flynn | Special to The Republican

A Western Massachusetts nonprofit is seeking nominations by Oct. 14 for an inaugural event, “Celebrating Cancer Heroes,” that will be held in November instead of its Halloween gala fund-raiser of the past four years.

Dr. Jay Burton, who founded the nonprofit Survivor Journeys after being successfully treated nearly a decade ago for acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal white or red blood cells or platelets, called the gala a concept that had become “stale for our organization.”

“Our board recognized this and we brainstormed to find a concept that would be more consistent with our mission to help provide emotional, social and educational support for cancer survivors, their caregivers, and families,” said Burton whose organization offers support groups and other free services beginning at diagnosis which is regarded as the start of cancer survivorship.

“We thought that honoring a certain number of cancer survivors in our community through a nominating process would help create more awareness about cancer survivorship locally and would help create more awareness about Survivor Journeys and its programs and services.”

The short nomination form invites nominations of anyone at any stage of their cancer journey and the nominator to share the reason the individual’s story has been a source of inspiration and example of courage.

Nominations can be downloaded and done online.

Completed nominations can also be mailed to Survivor Journeys, P.O. Box 60471, Longmeadow, MA 01116-2826, or emailed to survivorshipprogram@gmail.com

Stories to be highlighted at the catered heroes event Thursday, Nov. 21, at the estate known as Monticello at Somers (Conn.), beginning at 6 p.m., will be selected by a committee of individuals with “backgrounds in community service,” Burton said.

“When the decisions are made, we will then notify the nominators and have them notify those selected,” Burton added.

While some survivor stories will be highlighted, all nominees in attendance will be honored in some fashion.

Cost to attend the event is $85, $25 for those of high school age and younger. Purchase information will be posted on the nonprofit’s website.

For further information, call (413) 276-6100.

Monticello at Somers is located at 732 Hall Hill Road in Somers, Conn.

Survivor Journeys’ recent events open to the public as well as cancer survivors and their caregivers have included an all-day survivorship forum in June at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Presenters included former Boston Red Sox CEO Lawrence “Larry” Lucchino, principal owner and chair of the Worcester-headed Pawtucket Red Sox, who was treated in 1986 for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where he now chairs the Jimmy Fund.

The nonprofit provides serves cancer survivors living in Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut.

There were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States in 2016, a number that is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Read the full article on MassLive.