BANGOR, Maine — Local lawyer and cancer survivor Julio DeSanctis said he has survived cancer because of the support of his wife and family, and CancerCare of Maine.
DeSanctis spoke Sunday afternoon to a group of cancer survivors and their families and friends at the annual Cancer Survivor Day, hosted by CancerCare of Maine, on the Bangor Waterfront.
“It’s the support of our caregivers and loved ones that brings us through,” he said to those gathered. “We all literally owe our lives” to CancerCare of Maine and other medical facilities.
“Like all of you, we’ve been walking the walk for seven years,” said his wife, the Rev. Joan DeSanctis, who is pastor of the Old Town United Methodist Church.
A positive attitude, humor and striving to live life to its fullest are what she and her husband do to combat the deadly disease, Joan DeSanctis said.
“When a person is diagnosed, they are not alone,” she said. “Their family is diagnosed as well.”
Being diagnosed with cancer is a scary thing, even for those who work with cancer patients.
“When I got the test results back, I felt like everyone else,” said cancer patient Larry Beauregard, a research geneticist who works on hereditary cancer predisposition. “I thought, ‘My gosh, I have cancer. How are we going to deal with it?’”
The key to survival is action, said Beauregard, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and who works at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, the parent of CancerCare of Maine.
“Recognize … that there are people at CancerCare of Maine and other places ready to help you,” he said.
CancerCare of Maine is based at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor but has outgrown its space. Patients soon will be able to head to a brand-new, 70,000-square-foot CancerCare of Maine facility on Whiting Hill in Brewer that is scheduled to be complete by the end of this year.
Sunday’s Cancer Survivor Day looked like a party, with live music, stand-up comedy, and food cooking on grills. The celebration coincided with the 22nd annual National Cancer Survivors Day.
Children played in the sunshine while the Stone Doctors and Dave Rowe Trio performed and Maine humorist Gary Crocker made people laugh.
In one of several booths at the event, a photographer took pictures of cancer survivors for a project to document people’s stories. Beauregard and his wife, Barbara, had their pictures taken Sunday. Other booths distributed literature about the disease and cancer treatments.
The free food at the survivors celebration was provided by Jeff’s Catering of Brewer and by John’s Ice Cream Factory in Liberty.
During the event, retired Aroostook County educator, coach and 11-year liver cancer survivor Bob Dyer was given the 2009 Community Support Award for his and his family’s work in raising $34,571 through Katahdin Celebration of Life events for cancer research.
“There definitely is hope” for those diagnosed with cancer, he said. “At [one] time, I didn’t think I would see any grandchildren. In a couple of weeks, I’ll see my sixth.”