Cancer Survivors Celebrated in Duluth

Miller Dwan Foundation and Essentia Health hosted third annual event at Clyde Iron Works

DULUTH, Minn. – June is national cancer survivorship month.

The Miller Dwan Foundation says a patient isn’t a cancer survivor only if they beat the disease.

They are already survivors the moment they are diagnosed with it as they begin the difficult battle to fight for their lives.

A celebration at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth honored recently diagnosed cancer patients and people who have been cancer free for decades.

“Chemo just kills everything. It kills brain cells, it kills all kinds of stuff and the body and the mind is very worn out,” said cancer survivor, Julie Deters.

Deters was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

She would never call the disease a gift but says it taught her a lot.

“I think I was able to get in touch with who I really am authentically and it helps, I think, peel away a lot of layers,” said Deters.

She’s no longer going through cancer treatment but has check-ups every six months for the next four years.

“I don’t think anybody here probably feels like they’re cancer free completely,” said Deters. “There’s a little more knowledge of that potential and inevitability.”

The third annual Survivorship Celebration is a chance for people to take a step back, have a little fun, and meet other survivors.

Many have similar experiences that family and friends don’t fully understand.

“They offer wonderful levels of support but sometimes their understanding is just a little bit different so having those people who have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer, who have had those same types of chemotherapy, there’s a different level of understanding and it really allows people to come together,” said Traci Marciniak, President of the Miller Dwan Foundation.

Care providers also attend the event to get to know patients on another level.

“It’s an opportunity to take our hats as caregivers, as administrators, off and come here and be people with our patients and be able to interact with them in a different fashion,” said Jennifer Dobbs, Operations Administrator for the Essentia Health Cancer Services Division.

Hugs and conversation is what the celebration is all about.

It brings many together who share a common struggle.

“Cancer is really hard. It’s hard to deal with that and it’s scary but I want to honor the fact that everybody is going through something,” said Deters.

120 people attended this year’s event with many survivors bringing friends and family with them.

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