Wide shot of tents and people on lawn

National Cancer Survivors Day celebrated at cancer center

Ice cream, therapy dogs, giveaways, seminars and lots of happy smiles at event


UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center celebrated National Cancer Survivors Day on June 2. This is the 20th year the cancer center has held the event, which was organized by the Supportive Oncology and Survivorship team.

People of all ages who have survived cancer or are being treated for cancer and the family and staff helping with their care enjoyed free ice cream, other refreshments and lots of fun activities. Local cancer organizations provided information booths, some sharing information about adventures tailored for cancer survivors and their loved ones.

Patricia Witherspoon of Elk Grove stopped by the event after she finished her chemotherapy session at the cancer center. Witherspoon, undergoing breast cancer treatment for a second time, talked with staff who encouraged her to be optimistic.

African American woman talking with three women behind a table with pamphlets and other material on a table that says UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
Breast cancer patient Patricia Witherspoon talks with cancer center staff at National Cancer Survivors Day event.

“I feel confident I can beat this cancer again,” Witherspoon said. “This event is wonderful. I didn’t know it was happening and it is my first experience celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day at the cancer center.”

Event participants delighted in meeting a team of about a dozen therapy dogs, which were happy to be petted and hugged. There was also a photo booth and a “Hope Wall” where people posted the things in life they are celebrating. There were also arts and crafts for kids.

Golden retriever smiling broadly at event participant petting it.
Therapy dogs shared smiles with event participants.

Interactive seminars

A series of insightful and informative presentations were held indoors at the cancer center’s James E. Goodnight Auditorium. The seminars included one on utilizing writing to help heal, featuring the Writing as Healing weekly program for patients, caregivers and health care staff. Another seminar was provided by oncology and palliative care nurse Megan Ober on informed cannabis use during and after cancer treatment.

A third session covered sexual wellness after a cancer diagnosis. Presenter Jena Cooreman, a social worker with the cancer center’s Supportive Oncology Services, said more than 60% of people with cancer report sexual problems following their diagnosis, but less than 25% get help.

“There are many options to consider when encountering issues with sexual wellness,” Cooreman said. “It is important to ask cancer center staff for a referral to our resources.”

Woman at podium inside auditorium with large screen behind her that says “Sexual Wellness after Cancer”
Cancer center social worker Jena Cooreman presented on sexual wellness after a cancer diagnosis.


The nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation held its first event in 1988. The annual event is a “celebration of life,” where survivors and patients gather with cancer center doctors, nurses and other staff as well as friends and family to show that life after a cancer diagnosis can be full and fun.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.