Memorial Sloan-Kettering Rock & Run on the River

June 6, 2009 6:27:33 AM PDT
Supporting and honoring cancer survivors, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Rock and Run on the River 5K Run is Sunday. Mary McCabe, RN and director of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Survivorship Initiative and cancer survivor Greg Mason joined us with details. Mary McCabe, RN, MA works at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) as Director of the new Cancer Survivorship Program, a Center-wide initiative intended to address the long-term medical, psychological, and social consequences of cancer and its treatment. The Rock and Run on the River benefits the Cancer Survivorship Initiative that Mary Runs.

Ms. McCabe, who joins MSKCC from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has extensive experience in the full range of issues affecting cancer survivors. As increasing numbers of adults are cured of cancer or are living with cancer as a chronic disease, an array of life challenges confront survivors and their families.

The third annual event will raise funds for Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Cancer Survivorship Initiative, a comprehensive program of research, services, and post-treatment care designed to address the challenges faced by cancer survivors and their families. "Rock & Run will be a great day for people throughout the area to join together to support and honor cancer survivors," said Mary McCabe, RN, MA, director of the Cancer Survivorship Initiative. "There are more than 12 million people in this country living beyond cancer. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is committed to helping patients make the transition from active treatment to survivorship, while promoting a high quality of life for this growing population."

Tell us about the Memorial Sloan Kettering Rock and Run on the River.

To support survivors and their families cope with life beyond cancer, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has established the Cancer Survivorship Initiative Program to focus on psychosocial and medical issues as well as provide consultation services, education, and research programs. Tomorrow, thousands of people, will descend onto Hudson River Park's Pier 84 (12th Avenue and 44th Street) for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's 2nd Annual Rock & Run on the River. This one-day event will feature a 5k run/walk followed by a food and entertainment festival. Proceeds from the event will benefit Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Survivorship Initiative Program.

Greg, you were treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

I believe that beating cancer has not only helped me become stronger-it has also given me the opportunity to start a rewarding career working with others who battle this deadly disease. In May 2003, I was a collegiate track athlete and was stunned to learn that I had testicular cancer. After two surgeries followed by two rounds of chemotherapy, I returned to school and began my new life as a survivor. When I graduated with a degree in psychology, I took a job as a session assistant at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. It's so amazing to be able to identify with people who are leaving my office and getting on the elevator to meet with their oncologist. I can relate to the anxiety and anticipation they feel and the issues they face each day. This has helped me help them. It's a great feeling. I have now advanced to clinical practice supervisor at MSK's Sidney Kimmel Center for Prostate and Urologic Cancers -- the very place where I was once treated. Not only did Memorial Sloan-Kettering save my life; it has opened the door to a new career. I've been given this wonderful opportunity to live a full and purposeful life where I can serve and inspire others.

Now six years into my survivorship, I continue to run, completing two ING NYC Marathons, and finishing first at the inaugural Rock & Run on the River 5K in 2007. I've run a lot of races that promote cancer research and benefit causes, but Rock & Run was the first that supports survivorship. My dad is a 12-year colon cancer survivor, and it was great to do something I love -- running alongside him and my entire family -- to support something I'm passionate about.

Why is the Cancer Survivorship Initiative Program so vital to the victims and families that deal with cancer?

A survivor's cancer experience doesn't end at the end of treatment. It may continue for years and years. There are a variety of physical, psychological, social, employment, and financial issues that many survivors must deal with and this can be extremely challenging for them and their families. MSKCC's Cancer Survivorship Initiative Program addresses these short and long-term issues by taking into account the complexity of the patient's life not simply his or her medical treatment.

Greg, how did being part of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship Initiative Program help you to cope with the issues that this diagnosis brought with it?

Participating in the Survivorship Initiative Program has enriched our feeling of interconnectedness with the cancer community. It has helped in easing our transition from active treatment and recovery to active living.

Greg, does this program unite you with other cancer survivors? If so, what has that done for you in dealing with this terrible illness?

Yes, it does. I always tell others that I would have never wished to have cancer, but now that I had it I wouldn't change anything about this experience. I've met and befriended so many remarkable and inspiring individuals through this journey and because of it, I'm more enriched and feel so grateful.

Mary, how does the event honor cancer survivors?

Last year's inaugural event provided a wonderful opportunity to honor cancer survivors and celebrate the support they receive from their family and friends, all while raising funds for a worthy cause. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we're committed to helping patients make the transition from active treatment to life beyond cancer, and it is an inspiration to see so many people celebrating survivorship and enjoying the day's festivities.

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