The 13th-annual Cancer Services Tribute Dinner started at 6 p.m. in the Mirro Center for Research and Innovation at Parkview Sept. 6.
Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is a non-profit organization established in 1944. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer by providing resources, information and assistance.
Robin Hixson, a client at Cancer Services, said she attended the event with her family because she wanted to bring them all to celebrate with her.
“I was diagnosed in December of last year, right before the holidays, and I probably made my first trip there in February when I started chemo,” Hixson said. “When I started losing my hair, that’s when I made my first trip to Cancer Services.”
Hixson said she went to Cancer Services seeking as recommended by a friend, but she was nervous to go and didn’t know what to expect.
She said getting diagnosed with cancer is a roller coaster ride full of mixed emotions. Yet, through Cancer Services, she made many new friends going through the same things and found support to get her through.
Ed Souers, chairman of Cancer Services, said the concept of this event is to get people together to pay tribute to those affected by cancer. This includes not only cancer survivors, but also their families and doctors who have treated them.
Souers said his organization is completely supported by the community. They have about 600 volunteers, and do not charge their patients a dime.
Souers calls what they do “the softer side” of cancer. They provide things like emotional support, practical resources, wigs, transportation, information, and much more. He said this allows patients and their families to help deal with what they are going through.
Part of the show they put on for the night included keynote speaker Mayor Suzanne Handshoe.
Handshoe is a retired marine corps veteran, the first female mayor of Kendalville, and a cancer survivor.
To end the night, Handshoe spoke for approximately 23 minutes in a powerful speech discussing her life and her battle with cancer.
“I was notified a few years ago that in 1979 at my first duty station of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, I drank contaminated water for over 14 months, and multiple myeloma is one of the presumed diseases from contamination,” Handshoe said. “I never dreamed the career that I loved so much serving this great country would make me so ill. However, I have absolutely no regrets.”
Mayor Handshoe https://t.co/tIsXavRZAQ
— IPFW MoJo (@ipfwmojo) September 6, 2017
Mayor Handshoe was recommended to Cancer Services by Dr. Chitneni of Parkview. Like Robin Hixson, Mayor Handshoe said the organization made her experience with cancer a little easier.
Hixson said she respects everything Cancer Services does because they have a really big heart.
“I just want to applaud everybody involved in Cancer Services. This is my first event here and I will be back for many more,” Hixson said. “They put on a great show and I am very happy to be a part of it.”