WARREN - Cancer survivors and their loved ones came together in a showing of support at the 23rd annual Cancer Survivorship Day, which included a butterfly release and sharing of stories by survivors.
Trumbull Memorial Hospital, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society and the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation, sponsors the annual event, which provides an opportunity for cancer survivors, family members and friends to celebrate success in the fight against cancer.
Nearly 100 cancer survivors, each wearing a button that indicated the number of years they have been survivors, attended.
The event included the Lilly art display ''Oncology On Canvas;'' the presentation "What Survivorship Means," by local physician Dr. Lori Hemrock, an oncologist at the Hope Center for Cancer Care in Howland; and a variety of exhibitors.
The traditional butterfly release behind the school concluded the program.
Linda Paugh of Cortland, a one-year breast cancer survivor, said when she first learned she had cancer, she knew she didn't want to die and could see the fear that so many face in their lives when they are told those words.
"You know what others who have faced what you faced are thinking and what they may be feeling. I want everyone to know you can do this,'' she said.
Paugh said such events inspire her when she hears the stories shared by other survivors.
Paugh said she endured many radiation treatments after a tumor was detected and has been cancer-free for nearly a year. She said she has kept a journal of what she experienced sharing her feelings and faith in God.
"I know I can make a difference by sharing my story with others. My faith has made me whole as I faced the journey I had to go through. I hope by sharing my story, I am able to help someone else who is facing what I had to face," she said.
Irene Was of Warren, a 15-year cancer survivor, said she has attended many of the survivorship days and enjoyed hearing from Paugh and would like to be a speaker at a future event
"I was 75 years old when I was told I had cancer. It is so inspiring to hear from others who share their own stories. When they told me I had cancer, I didn't know how to react," she said.
After an operation, Was was able to attend art classes at Kent State, working on sculptures and other projects.
Luana Andamasaris, a nurse at the radiation oncology department at Trumbull Memorial, said Hemrock shared how survivors should continue to reach out to one another, not hesitate to discuss their survival experiences and remember to enjoy life.
She said each speaker provided words of encouragement, hope and support.