Yale Cancer Center’s annual holiday party gives cancer survivors and current patients a chance to celebrate the true meaning of this special season.
[December 2008] David Martin, an automotive consultant who spent most of his career in California, sat smiling happily, his wife Marjorie by his side. Next to him was William Head, a vivacious 22-year U.S. Army veteran. Across the table were George Reilly, a former restaurant worker, and Catherine Moody, who moved to the area from southern Georgia.
On the surface, this group looks about as diverse as a jury pool, but one thing unites them: they have all been diagnosed with cancer and are former or current patients at Yale Cancer Center (YCC). They were among a group of nearly 90 cancer patients at a holiday party held at Harkness Lounge earlier this month by YCC and Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH).
Billed as a celebration of life, the event honored the courage, strength and determination of cancer patients, their families and health care providers. The party, featuring dinner by the Greek Olive and a concert by “Something Extra,” the Yale College women’s a cappella singing group, has become an annual tradition.
“The holiday season represents a very special time for us to count our blessings and take stock of where everything is, of all the positives things that have happened during the year,” Edward Chu, M.D., deputy director and chief of medical oncology at YCC, told the group. “This holiday party is our very small token of thanks to all of you who have come this evening, to thank you for being part of our family here.”
Kathleen Derringer, YCC’s associate director for special events and communications affairs, said cancer patients form special bonds with each other and with those who care for them. “We want to bring them together because they get to meet other patients who they might have gone through treatment with, or their social workers or doctors, or nurses, friends or family, just to mark the time.”
The mood of the evening was celebratory, even for those who are still in the midst of treatment. “So far it’s been excellent. I’ve had no problems,” said William Head, who has had 21 radiation treatments at YNHH since early November.
George Reilly will celebrate his first anniversary of being cancer free on January 8. “Very good. Excellent,” he said.
Reilly was describing his physical condition, but he just as easily could have been talking about the mood of everyone in the room as they look forward to the new year, one filled with joy and good health.
Cancer survivor David Martin and his wife Marjorie joined more than 80 current and former patients, friends, family members and doctors at Yale Cancer Center’s annual Holiday Party.
Cancer survivors George Reilly (left) and Catherine Moody at Yale Cancer Center’s annual Holiday Party.