‘You can survive.’ Long Island cancer survivors and families celebrate life at Lake Success
More than 1,200 cancer survivors and their families gathered in Lake Success Saturday for a celebration of life.
Northwell Health's annual “Cancer Survivor's Day” event took place outside the Lake Success Medical Center where many were first diagnosed with cancer.
One of the keynote speakers is musician Richie Cannata, of Glen Cove, who battled stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015. Stand-up comic John Ziegler, of Bethpage, said humor helped him beat pancreatic cancer in April 2021.
"When I was really sick, somebody made me laugh or teased me and it helped a lot. I kept a very positive attitude through that," Ziegler said.
"Cancer is a word, not a sentence," said Dr. Richard Barakat. He added that research and new treatments are giving patients a greater chance at survival.
"Most important way that patients are being treated nowadays is with precision medicine where we profile their tumors to see what mutations exist. And if we have medication that can target that mutation, we treat them," Barakat explained.
Cannata and other cancer survivors said now that they have beaten cancer, they want to pay it forward by inspiring cancer patients and letting them know there is hope.
“I'm standing here alive saying you can survive. So, what we need to do as survivors is to give that back as mentors, also as caregivers and as people who can support those who have this disease. Because through the research and through a great hospital like Northwell you can survive it,” Cannata said.
Cannata added that the cancer treatments caused him to lose his ability to use his hands and play the saxophone, but through intense physical therapy, he was able to get back on stage.