Survivorship Day Attracts Hundreds of Guests

Photo: Chris HildrethPhoto: Chris HildrethHundreds of patients, their loved ones and caregivers—more than 500 altogether—attended Survivorship Day activities in Wake County, on June 4, and in Durham, on June 5.

Both events featured activities designed to help guest relax, rejuvenate and educate. Approximately 30 local businesses volunteered time, talent and resources to support Duke’s cancer patients and their families.

“We wouldn’t be anywhere else,” shared Charles Fritz, district manager of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers. “My wife, Tonya, received care at Duke for ovarian cancer. Cancer affects almost everyone, whether it be directly or indirectly. It’s important to Freddy’s to support its communities.”

The Durham-based event attracted more than 400 guests. A record 150 guests attended this year’s panel discussion featuring Kevin Oeffinger, MD, director of the Supportive Care and Survivorship Center at DCI; Jean Hartford-Todd, a child life specialist; medical oncologist Michael Harrison, MD; patient navigator Valarie Worthy, MSN, RN; and Lisa Massa, PT, WCS, CLT, a physical therapist.

Sueson Vess, cheff with Special Eats, is a two-time cancer survivor. She hosted multiple cooking demonstrations featuring “real food with benefits,” such as antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, fiber, quality proteins and fats.

“My short list of enjoy and avoid foods is somewhat easier to digest,” she shared, with a chuckle. “It’s important that we consume foods with benefits—foods we know will love us back.”

Guest enjoyed tastings and received Vess’ HealthEats recipes, including recipes for a Mediterranean vegetarian collard wrap, crunchy fermented beet salad and homemade ghee.
Other activities at Duke Cancer Center in Durham included massage, pet therapy, financial health, makeup consultations, art demos and much more.Photo: Chris HildrethPhoto: Chris Hildreth

Duke Cancer Center Raleigh also hosted a panel discussion on cancer research, care and support. Oncology experts included Patrick Plumeri, MS, LMFT, a medical family therapist; Nicole Scholl, BSN, RN, OCN, an oncology nurse navigator; Sundar Ramalingam, MD, a hematologist, medical oncologist; Carrie Smith, MS, RD, CSO, LDN, a clinical dietician; and Kim Pickney, MSW LCSW, a clinical social worker.

“I’m so glad I decided to come out today,” said Laura Stanley, Raleigh, who not only battles arterial hypertension, but also breast cancer. “This is just what I needed.”

Lisa Tussel, daughter of Kathryn Wolf, who last year lost her battle with ovarian cancer, took part in #MyDukeCancerStory filming, which took place at Survivorship Day at both locations. Tussell, along with her sister, Stacey, and her father, Bernie Wolf, continued Kathryn’s work to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and BRACA, the gene responsible for the increased chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

“If you don’t know what you’re facing, you can’t fight,” shared Tussel. “Knowledge is key.”

To learn more about Survivorship Day, visit

Circle photo by Chris Hildreth of Rooster Media.