The public is invited to join us on Thursday, June 10, 5:30 p.m. Oak Grove Park, Fargo, as Embrace, MeritCare's Cancer Survivorship Program hosts its 2nd Annual Cancer Survivorship Picnic – an opportunity for hundreds of cancer survivors, families, friends and caregivers to come together and celebrate life.
"When my doctor said 'cancer,' I didn't know even know what the word meant," recalls the 43-year-old from Barnesville, Minn. Today Ishaug knows exactly what it means. Cancer-free for 31 years, she's traveled the road of diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
Surgery and radiation therapy treated Ishaug's cancer, but her young life changed, especially when word got around that she had cancer. "Back then my classmates thought it was contagious. There was a lot of teasing and bullying – that seemed worse than the cancer itself," she says. "Today there's a lot more openness and awareness."
Despite painful years, Ishaug went on to have a fulfilling life. She earned a college degree in history, worked on the oncology unit at MeritCare Hospital and pursued religious life in a convent.
In 2000, while at the convent, she collapsed. An imaging test revealed another brain tumor that would require surgery. The tumor wasn't cancerous, but caused some permanent disability. Today Ishaug appreciates the fact she can walk and live on her own.
"One survivorship lesson I've learned over the years is to rely on your support system – my family's been great. And to trust in God," she says. "One of my favorite quotes is 'Where there's hope, there's an angel.'"
Ishaug's influence has spread. Her sister Kathy Smith decided to pursue oncology nursing and today works at MeritCare Roger Maris Cancer Center and also with embrace, MeritCare's Cancer Survivorship Program. "I learn so much from my patients – strength, hope, humor," says Smith. "And it all started with LeAnn. She taught me grace."
Join Ishaug, her family and people from throughout the region at the annual cancer survivorship picnic and celebration:
Thursday, June 10, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Main shelter at Oak Grove Park, Fargo.
All cancer survivors, families, friends and caregivers welcome.
Enjoy food, music, kids' activities and visiting.
Held in conjunction with national survivorship month, the picnic is hosted by embrace, MeritCare Cancer Survivorship Program. The program focuses on connecting, educating and empowering all whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Registration is requested. Contact embrace@MeritCare.com or call (701)234-7463.
MeritCare Roger Maris Cancer Center Staff and cancer survivors will be available to be interviewed at the event.