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Cancer survivors honored at Boomers game

From left: Social worker Kim Jensen, Eloise DeCarlo, Judy Clarkson, Janice Johnson and Joanne Abbott are members of Northwest Community Hospital's cancer survivors' support group planning committee. This week they discuss an upcoming annual summer picnic, and plans to attend Cancer Survivors' Night at Saturday's Boomers game. (Kate Thayer/Tribune)

From left: Social worker Kim Jensen, Eloise DeCarlo, Judy Clarkson, Janice Johnson and Joanne Abbott are members of Northwest Community Hospital's cancer survivors' support group planning committee. This week they discuss an upcoming annual summer picnic, and plans to attend Cancer Survivors' Night at Saturday's Boomers game. (Kate Thayer/Tribune)

As a six-year breast cancer survivor, Judy Clarkson of Mount Prospect said it’s important to focus on the future and enjoy life.

“It’s definitely about moving on in life…and not dwelling on the past,” she said of events planned through cancer support groups at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where she’s not only a group member but a volunteer.

With that in mind, Clarkson, 75, said she planned to attend Saturday’s Cancer Survivors’ Night during a Schaumburg Boomers baseball game in Schaumburg. The event, planned by the Boomers and the hospital, will begin at 5:20 p.m. with a parade of survivors and caregivers on the field. There will also be opening remarks by a survivor, and hospital representatives on hand with information during the game, among other activities.

The game is a way “to get the awareness out…and help people fighting the good fight,” said Ed McCaskey, Boomers director of media relations. “We want to say thank you for your inspirational stories, and give them a nice day at the ball park.”

Keith Ammons, director of cancer services at Northwest Community Hospital, said survivor groups and camaraderie are important for cancer patients, especially given the latest advancements in treatment.

“Cancer patients are living so much longer than they ever have,” he said. “They have many needs that need to be addressed. It’s not just about the treatment…it’s about celebrating people’s journey.”

There are six different cancer support groups at the hospital, said Kim Jensen, oncology social worker for outpatient services. There are also classes to help patients deal with the emotional, physical and psychological effects of surviving cancer.

“We help them move on and integrate cancer as a part of their life without it being the biggest part of their life,” she said.

That’s an important point for Joanne Abbott, another member of a Northwest Community cancer survivors’ support group, who said events like Saturday’s game brings attention to cancer success stories.

“It’s not a death sentence any longer,” she said.

Besides Saturday’s Boomers game, cancer survivors will gather for the 11th Northwest Community Hospital Cancer Survivors’ Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. June 24 at the Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 w. Central Road. For information or to RSVP, call 847-618-6660

Those that want to be in the Boomers survivors and caregivers’ parade should arrive at 5 p.m. at the stadium, 1999 S. Springinsguth Road. Saturday is just one of several games with a community-related theme. For information on games and tickets, visit www.boomersbaseball.com, or call 847-461-3695.

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