Cancer survivors posing by signatures

Day for the Survivors

More than 250 cancer survivors and their supporters, doctors, nurses and NorthBay Cancer Center staff turned out June 4 to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day at Rancho Solano Country Club.

It was the 21st year that NorthBay has hosted the festivities, which included a chance to network with other survivors, have photos taken by a professional photographer, enjoy a nice lunch, hear updates on cancer treatments and participate in a raffle.

The program featured two “Speaking from the Heart” presentations by cancer patients Danilo Menquito and Jamie Ramirez.

Hematologist and medical oncologist Jessica Powers, M.D., kicked off the program with a presentation about taking your future into your hands, and doing things to improve your chances against a future occurrence of cancer. Included in the list was, “Eat to live, don't live to eat,” and suggestions for more exercise and little to no cigarettes and alcohol.

“Lifestyle changes are important,” said Dr. Powers. “Small changes can make a big difference.”

Karen Vikstrom, a genetic counselor with more than 15 years of experience, shared insights on the changing landscape of genetic testing.

“In just five years, technology has changed so much,” she told the audience. “Now we can test for up to 65 genes that are associated with types of illness. And in another five years, imagine what we'll be able to do.”

Not only will genetics help patients understand what cancers they may be most vulnerable to, but can also help in the creation of a treatment plan if they are found to have that cancer.