Survivors celebrate victories over cancer

Published 11:05 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Associate Publisher

A celebration of life was displayed Sunday during Survivors Got Talent, the National Cancer Survivors Day variety show held in Washington.
More than 250 attendees witnessed an eclectic display of talent ranging from soulful musical offerings to a praying dog. The event, sponsored by the Shepard Cancer Foundation, among others, was held at the First Church of Christ.
According to Pam Shadle, a foundation board member, “This event has grown so large in this fourth year that we had to move it to this wonderful facility. We are very grateful to the church for being a sponsor. A great deal of preparation and hard work has gone in to making this a positive tribute to survivors, volunteers and caregivers.”
Dr. Jennie Crews, director of medical oncology at the cancer center, welcomed the audience with these remarks: “National Cancer Survivors Day is a worldwide celebration of life to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive. In the United States, there are over 10 million cancer survivors … defined as anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis throughout the rest of life.”
She continued, “Cancer survivors come from all walks of life. As I look into your faces today, I see the common thread that binds you. It is not cancer. It is your tenacity, toughness, your joy and your hope. That is what we are celebrating today.”
Foundation President Jeff Tubaugh — a cancer survivor — offered a unique perspective on quality of care offered by the staff and volunteers at the cancer center: “I have never seen any better treatment, including massage and complementary therapy, than what we get here in Washington, North Carolina. The staff and volunteers are more concerned about us than themselves!”
Applause and “Amens” from the many survivors in the audience who shared the same feeling greeted his comments.
Kristi Fearrington, mistress of ceremonies, introduced the performers;
The variety show included the following:
• A piano medley of inspirational songs, including “Climb Every Mountain,” by Jo Roberson Parker.
• Nicole DaVia took a turn as a juggler by keeping many balls in the air.
• Rebecca Gorham performed “To God be the Glory.” As she sang, she accompanied herself on piano.
• Lalla Sidbury and Kasey, the “pet partner” and “most popular volunteer” at the cancer center, showed how a well-trained Labrador can entertain, obey and bark a prayer.
• Ruby Bunch began with a touching remembrance of her late daughter, who had been diagnosed with cancer at the same time she was diagnosed with cancer, as she gave ‘honor to my God, to Dr. Crews and her staff. Afterward, Bunch and her family, with accompaniment from drums and keyboard, performed “More and More Like Jesus.”
• Accordion player Robin Potts, with vocal assistance from her granddaughter, performed “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore” and “Peace Like a River.”
• Dr. Jennie Crews, dressed as the Cat in the Hat, recited the Dr. Seuss poem “23 Daves at the McCaves” and an encore recitation of her favorite Lewis Carroll poem.
• Larry Loving told the audience: “I do take requests, but I play anyway.” He performed “Autumn Leaves” and a “boogie tune” on the piano.
• Melisa Dixon sang “Who am I?” with frequent refrains of “I am all yours, we’re all His” that served as testimony and praise.
• Mary Lou Sheppard and Charles Dew danced the Shag to “Crazy.”
• Frank Richards III performed a piano arrangement of “In the Garden.”
• Tommy Brabble shared moving testimony and praise before singing “Calvary is the Reason Why” with his wife, Mary.
• Annie Griffin and Bea Latham teamed for a comedic presentation as “Flossie Mae and Sudie Fae.” The women, dressed as girls, sang, hula-hooped, skipped, clapped and tossed candy to the audience in their presentation.
• George Michaels Gioiella sang selections from the “Great American Songbook” and played his guitar, while doing a bit of stand-up comedy between numbers.
• Staff members of the cancer center called Jeff Tubaugh to the stage as the unwitting focus of “12 Days of Chemo.”
Crews then called the name of each survivor in attendance for public recognition and as a testament to his or her determination and strength.
The variety show ended with audience members singing and dancing in the aisles, including soon-to-be 100-year-old cancer survivor Larry Jones.
The mission of the Shepard Cancer Foundation is to financially support and promote the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center in its efforts to improve the mind, body and spirit of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. To donate, make checks payable to: Shepard Cancer Foundation, 1209 Brown St., Washington, NC 27889. Web site: