UNC Cancer Survivors Day brings community together for day of celebration, education

Cancer survivors, their care providers and UNC faculty and staff were at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education on Saturday, June 10, in a show of community and support, and to share information on issues facing survivors.

UNC Cancer Survivors Day brings community together for day of celebration, education click to enlarge Judge Carl Fox and Julia Kemp Fox were the keynote speakers at UNC Cancer Survivors Day 2017.
UNC Cancer Survivors Day brings community together for day of celebration, education click to enlarge Jordan Talmadge Lee had everyone on their feet and working up a sweat.

UNC Lineberger hosted its third annual UNC Cancer Survivors Day on Saturday, June 10, at the William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education in Chapel Hill. The free interactive and educational event featured a keynote address by Superior Court Judge Carl Fox, a cancer survivor, and his wife, Julia Kemp Fox.

Judge Fox spoke openly about his 2015 diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer, and his subsequent cancer journey.

“You wonder ‘Why me?,’ ‘Why did this happen to me?,’ ‘What could I have done differently?,’ and there are no answers to those questions,” said Fox of his cancer diagnosis.

During his cancer battle, Fox and his now-wife started the “Save the Fox” campaign to raise awareness of blood cancers and urge more African Americans to join the National Marrow Donor Program. As a result of their efforts, 4,000 people were added to the registry, and so far, 13 potential donors have been matched with patients in need of transplantation.

Fox’s own life was saved by a transplant using umbilical cord stem cells.

“We have to keep hope alive, not just for ourselves but for others as well. When others survive, it lifts us all up,” said Fox.   

Other speakers included UNC Lineberger member Ethan Basch, MD, Joy Javits, founder and coordinator of UNC Health Care’s DooR to DooR program, and Jennifer Walker, MLS. Basch detailed his groundbreaking research on patient reported outcomes, Javits demonstrated how to speak confidently to caregivers, and Walker shared advice on finding credible cancer information.

Jordan Talmadge Lee, a graduate student in the UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences, encouraged everyone to get up on their feet and stressed the importance of staying physically active. Live music, interactive art activity stations, and a caricature artist added to the day’s positive atmosphere.

“I think this day is an important forum to bring survivors together to share their experiences and to learn more about living beyond their cancer diagnosis,"  said Deborah Mayer, PhD, ANP-BC, AOCN, FAAN, event organizer and director of Cancer Survivorship at UNC Lineberger. "We at UNC have a lot to learn from them as well into ways to make the cancer care we deliver better.”

Attendees overwhelmingly had positive feedback about the day of celebration, with many sharing that they left feeling inspired.

“I learned so much about different programs and how to get involved at UNC,” said attendee and breast cancer survivor Mona Daniels.