Diebold Family Cancer center holds 20th annual survivor's celebration

It was a time for celebration for cancer survivors earlier this month.

New Milford Hospital’s Diebold Family Cancer Center held its 20th annual survivors’ celebration June 6 at the senior center.

The event, based on the theme “Off to the Races, a Triple Crown Celebration,” included race day cuisine, a race day fashion show, and reflections from New Milford Hospital’s staff, town officials and patient speakers.

Guests attended in race day attire, complete with fanciful hats and bow ties.

Attendees included survivors — anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life — and their guests.

About 120 survivors and their guests were joined by New Milford Hospital oncology staff, including Dr. Joseph Bargellini and Dr. Sandra Lombardo.

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass also attended the event, which coincided with National Cancer Survivors Day, an annual celebration of life held in communities across the country and around the world.

The celebration is geared to those who have survived and is an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to local communities.

The cancer center’s annual celebration is a registered National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation event celebrated each June.

A vital component of the Diebold Family Cancer Center’s Survivorship Program, the complementary celebration for cancer survivors and their support partners is funded through charitable donations from the community.

For the past two years, the event was held in the newly renovated café and courtyard at New Milford Hospital.

The event is supported by New Milford Hospital staff across many departments, including dining services, facilities, housekeeping and oncology.

This year, the dining staff catered the event with popular race foods. The food and beverages were all part of the Plow to Plate program.

Today, more than 15.5 million Americans alive have a history of cancer.

Cancer death rates are the best measure of progress against the disease because they are less affected by detection practices than incidence and survival.

The overall age-adjusted cancer death rate rose during most of the 20th century, peaking in 1991 at 215 cancer deaths per 100,000 people, mainly because of the tobacco epidemic.

As of 2016, the rate had dropped to 156 per 100,000 (a decline of 27 percent) because of reductions in smoking, as well as improvements in early detection and treatment.

This decline translates into more than 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths from 1991 to 2016, progress that has been driven by steady declines in death rates for the four most common cancer types: breast, colorectal, lung and prostate