Cancer survivors celebrate faith, family, friends at Gerber Memorial’s annual brunch
FREMONT – Modern medicine may have helped many of the attendees at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s annual cancer survivors’ brunch beat back the disease.
Nearly 90 people from throughout Newaygo County – more than 40 of them cancer survivors – attended the brunch at Tamarac on Saturday, September 16, to share stories about hope and healing, enjoy a nutritious brunch and find common strength and inspiration that transcended age and even language. What truly sustained them throughout their ordeal, however, were the powers of faith, family and friends, and the support from caregivers and cancer survivors alike.
Andrew Everding, who said he is now in remission since he was diagnosed in October 2014, thanked patients, survivors and friends and family for the work they do: “The support from everyone is more important than anything you can go through.”
Mary Rottier, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, shared her story of finding strength in her faith and in God, for herself as well as for her young children.
“What I gained from having cancer is far more than what I lost,” Rottier said. “I beat it, I am a survivor. Cancer strengthened my relationships with my family and with my faith.”
Gerber Memorial Chaplain Ed Arndt said he was privileged and honored to deliver the breakfast prayer.
“It’s amazing to see the impact we can have on our community,” Arndt said. “It’s good to see so many smiling faces after everything they’ve been through. I’m glad I can be here today.”
In addition to stories of courage and hope, attendees at the brunch also heard a presentation from Gerber Memorial volunteer Dianne Taylor-Chandler, an avid fly-fisherwoman who is also a volunteer guide for Reeling and Healing Midwest, a nonprofit that provides fly fishing wellness retreats for women battling and surviving cancer.
Taylor-Chandler said the group’s missions is to provide women with a one-of-a-kind experience that allows them to renew their spirit and hope through fly fishing, nature, peer coaching, positive camaraderie and support.
The brunch buffet for survivors and their families also received an unexpected addition when survivor Juana Ovalle brought 45 homemade chicken tamales, inspired by her family recipe traditional to San Luis Potosi in central Mexico, to share with the attendees. Now cancer free, Ovalle said the tamales were her way of showing her thanks to the Gerber Memorial staff who cared for her during her battle and to express her empathy and solidarity with the other cancer survivors at the brunch.
The brunch was also supported by the American Cancer Society.
Gerber Memorial reports more than 1,900 Cancer Center provider visits a year, and more than 60 chemo infusions on average every month.
To learn more or to contact Gerber Memorial’s Cancer Center, call 231.924.1305.