LINDEN - After being a cancer survivor for five years, Brenda Lovell, of Linden, recently received the opportunity to attend a Celebrate Life event.
She joined 54 other cancer survivors to commemorate their battle at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia last month, but her battle started almost a decade ago.
Lovell found a lump on her right breast nearly nine years ago. She received a lumpectomy and treatment, which removed the cancer, but was told it could return again.
In February, five years ago, it did.
She heard about the treatment center before her cancer returned and decided if she found it again, she would go to the center. With the help of her family, scheduling appointments and working with her insurance, she had her orientation in March that year.
"God had a hand in this," she said.
What Lovell's husband, Fred, noticed about the center was an environment more like a hotel than a hospital. They crossed paths with different patients and talked with them about their experiences.
The program was very much involved. Instead of just regular treatment, the doctors gave nutritional recommendations based on bloodwork.
The doctors and nurses helped with their hostility-lacking approaches and spiritual guidance, especially with the director of pastoral care, with whom Brenda had a number of meetings.
"It was relaxing to know they can take care of you," Brenda said. "They know what they're doing and they do it."
The doctor said the cancer would not go away, but it would be manageable, Fred said. Brenda did not have any complications from it, though. Doctors are monitoring to make sure there are no "hot spots," which refers to spots of cancer.
"After so long, you get used to it," she said. "I'm not sick with it."
Having family support and religion helped Brenda through her treatments. But Fred does not think he does anything out of the ordinary to support his wife.
"You do what you need to do," he said.
At the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's annual Celebrate Life event, survivors were allowed to commemorate the tenacity of being survivors and serve as examples of perseverance for those still battling the disease.
Brenda participated in several of the events, including a tree-planting ceremony, with one tree planted for each five-year survivor, and a dove release, where patients released several doves into the sky as a symbol of renewal.
Celebrants also passed out lapel pins with the word "Hope" on them to patients who are undergoing treatment.