Celebrating Life: Cancer Survivors Share Stories of Resilience


June 2 is National Cancer Survivors Day.

It’s a day to acknowledge cancer survivors, raise awareness of the challenges cancer survivors face, and to celebrate life.

As part of Meritus Medical Center, the John R. Marsh Cancer Center is known for providing the highest quality service in a friendly environment. Surgeons, radiologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists as well as certified nurses and rehabilitation therapists are passionate about their patients’ cancer care and healing process.

“I called them my nurse angels,” said Donald Gall, 78, of Halfway, Md. “From the minute you walk in, you can tell that they care. They have to, or they wouldn’t survive in that kind of job.”

When Gall first went to John R. Marsh Cancer Center, he was battling stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer had spread to seven different places in his body. He had been on two different kinds of chemotherapy, but after seven months, “it quit working.”

His doctor said he had more arrows in his quiver and got him approved to take a new medication, Opdivo. After another seven months, in August of 2016, he was cancer clear. His treatments continued through November 2019.

“I cannot say enough about how great those people are in the infusion center,” Gall said. “I don’t know how they find the courage to face what they face every day.”

To show his appreciation, he would dress up as Santa Claus to deliver presents to the staff who helped him at the center.

As a cancer survivor, he admits his treatments did drain his strength.

“But I’m here,” he said. “I’m pretty much able to go and do what I want.”

Cynthia Delauter beat breast cancer thanks to the John R. Marsh Cancer Center. It was 1998 when the now-72-year-old Hagerstown resident received a stage 1 diagnosis. She underwent radiation, chemotherapy and, eventually, a lumpectomy.

“They have been phenomenal,” she said of the staff at the cancer center. “They’ve always been very professional, kind, sympathetic, loving, intelligent — you could ask them anything.”

Unfortunately, her cancer journey hasn’t been as successful as one would hope. In 2003, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of treatable blood cancer.

She visits the cancer center every five weeks or so to get diagnostic tests, sometimes experiencing a plateau.

“But then the numbers go in the wrong direction,” she said, leading to more treatment.

When that happens, she said she’s glad she’s got the John R. Marsh Cancer Center there to care for her.

“I would highly recommend the facility,” she said.

The cancer center is proud to serve Gall, Delauter and the hundreds of patients who get treatment there every year, said Maulik Joshi, president and CEO or Meritus Health.

“From nationally renowned oncology specialists to an infusion solarium and meditation garden, our center is the place where patients and families come to find healing, compassion and comfort,” Joshi said. “And the best part is, we are right here providing expert care, close to home.”

To learn more about the cancer center and providers, visit meritushealth.com/CancerCenter or call 301-665-4650.

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