Individuals from all walks of life gathered as families and friends to share a meal on Thursday evening.
Despite the differences between attendees such as age, race or socioeconomic status, everyone at the event at one thing in common — their lives had been touched by cancer.
“It’s amazing to see how far-reaching cancer is,” said attendee Jane Hyer. “You never think it is going to happen to you or to those who you love. But to see so many in the community that it affects and to see them smiling and laughing and knowing that they survived it, it’s just amazing.”
Hyer was one of the many cancer survivors who was invited to bring her family and friends to a dinner hosted by Intermountain Healthcare for Cancer Survivors Day. Hyer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, but thanks to the help of surgery and radiation she is now cancer-free.
The event was originally planned for the stage at Willow Park, but it was moved into a nearby Latter-day Saint meeting house due to Thursday evening’s thunderstorm.
Suzanne Eliason, the medical oncology manager for the Gossner Cancer Center in Logan, said the event began three years ago as a way to highlight the success patients were having through their cancer treatment.
“Cancer is a journey,” Eliason said. “Everyone has their own journey or their own story that comprises of who they are, and they become strong because of these trials that are part of their journey. We like to celebrate the successes of the strengths that they have gained because of these tough times in their journey.”
Eliason said people who are facing cancer do better when they have support systems, and that this dinner helps create those systems.
“It really is a support night to let them see that there are hundreds of other people going through their journeys and that they can glean from the strength of others,” Eliason said.
Betty Jean Speth is another one of the cancer survivors who attended Thursday’s dinner. Speth has previously undergone treatment for lung cancer and is now considered stable. She said events like the dinner are important because they create hope.
“I was amazed how many people there are who have had cancer, but I am also happy about the survivors,” Speth said.
Speth also said bringing people together makes the community stronger.
“Cancer is such a strong word; it sounds like you are doomed,” Speth said. “But when people get together and talk about it and discuss it, they can see it’s not, really.”