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Standing United for Survivorship

Special Guest, Uncle Sam (Dr. Naeem Tahir) poses with Dawn Kerivan, Administrative Director for the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center.





Though, outside, it was dark and gloomy, within the canvas walls of a wedding-size tent, it was anything but. The mood was celebratory as music filled the air, provided by members of the U.S. Navy Band Northeast, refreshments were served and several well-known dignitaries, in the form of Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty mingled amongst the crowd. Though, with its patriotic theme, it might have easily been mistaken for an Independence Day celebration, the real purpose of the gathering was, according to Dawn Kerivan, an opportunity to "give back to our patients" as hundreds of cancer survivors gathered together on the grounds of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center at Milford Regional Medical Center.

Kerivan, Administrative Director for the Dana-Farbor unit at the cancer center, explained that the survivor's event is a long-standing tradition at Milford Regional, dating back about ten years. "They were (typically) attended by 50-75 people," she recalled. "But because of the partnership ... it's just grown to where, at last year's event, we had over 400 patients here."

The "partnership" Kerivan referred to is a three-way collaboration between Milford Regional, Dana-Farbor Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, through which the Milford facility was constructed, three years ago.

"This is a full service cancer center," Kerivan noted. "The programs that we offer the patients here, in a community setting is phenomenal for our patients. We have: support groups; supportive care centers on-site and we run specialty clinics, where specialists come out from Boston to see the more difficult cases, so (the patients) don't have to travel to Boston."

Kerivan, who chaired the event, dubbed "United We Stand For Survivorship", described it as saying to the center's patients; "We're here with you during your struggles and we're so proud of your triumphs; we're proud of you and we're all part of a family."

The event, which took place on June 9, was one of several activities scheduled for "Survivorship Month". Kerivan noted that the center also offered a series of workshops, such as "Caring For the Care-giver", during the month of June. In addition, the center played host to an art exhibit, sponsored by Lily Oncology, which featured paintings by cancer survivors and caregivers.

The evening's events opened with remarks by Michael Constantine, Medical Director of the Dana-Farbor unit at the center who, in keeping with the festive theme of the evening, wore a colorful red-white-and blue outfit, which rivaled that of Uncle Sam, himself; portrayed by Dr. Naeem Tahir. Joined at the microphone by Kerivan, Constantine thanked guests and their families and also acknowledged staff members' contributions to the evening. The Navy Band Northeast, which according to the evening's program, "was established in 1974 and is one of 13 official bands of the United States Navy ... and serves as the musical ambassador ... in support of military and civilian communities throughout the Northeastern United States," provided music as refreshments were served.

Other evening highlights included remarks by cancer survivor, Daniel Jones. Raffles were held and there were several sing-a-longs, as the guests joined the band in renditions of God Bless America and You're a Grand Old Flag.

Another selection, Yankee Doodle Dandy featured dancing by the "Cancer Center Steppers"; a dance-troupe formed by center staff members. "Patients just love to see staff on a human level," Kerivan acknowledged. "We relate to our patients like a family and pride ourselves on providing a family atmosphere."





Medical Director of the Dana-Farbor unit at the cancer center, Dr. Michael Constantine, served as Master of Ceremonies.




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