A conversation between two Heartland Cancer Center patients that resulted in sharing get-well and thank-you cards has culminated in an annual celebration and balloon launch.
The cancer center’s 7th anniversary event will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26 at HCC, 204 Cleveland; it will end with the balloon release close to 3 p.m. Current and former patients, their families and the public are invited.
"Several years ago, I was taking chemo and talking with a woman who was having a bad day," Doug Brown of Great Bend recalled. "She showed me a get-well card from her daughter’s friend – someone she’d met only once.
"She said it was the ‘little things’ that mean so much," Brown added. "Letting balloons fly into the sky is a small thing but it can mean so much to those who have been touched by cancer."
After his conversation with the woman, Brown submitted a letter to the editor to the Great Bend Tribune, asking people to send a card of appreciation to the cancer center.
"They ended up with a big box of cards," Brown said. "We then had the idea of the balloon launch. The goal is to have everyone be more aware of HCC and its treatments. Maybe it will encourage someone to seek medical treatment if they know something is not right.
"I believe no one has ever lost their fight with cancer," Brown pointed out. "Some have ended their fight but they were not losers – they were survivors who ended their fight. On this 7th anniversary we remember those who have ended the fight, celebrate the survivors and thank these great caregivers."
Brown was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2005, and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments at HCC.
"Because of the side effects, head and neck patients are difficult to treat," Brown said. "The physical and emotional strains are tremendous. But this professional, compassionate staff at HCC took care of me in an amazing way. The doctors and staff were always supportive. I am in observation now and plan to be for a long time."
In 2009, Brown’s wife, Dee, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She also has been treated and is now in observation.
"Dee and I hope the community will show its support for the cancer center at the balloon launch," Brown said. "It is always an impressive sight and lets cancer patients know they are in the community’s thoughts."