Alton, IL,
18:19 PM

Riverbend Cancer Survivors Celebrate and 'Live in the Present'

Eight year cancer surivor Heather Jones, certified breast health navigator
“Many times the poem about Jesus’ singular footprints in the sand carried me through the process, allowing me to know he would carry me when I could not go on."
Eight year cancer surivor Heather Jones, certified breast health navigator

Financial Advisor Mike Moeller lost his dad and many relatives to cancer so he has been alongside many friends and family during their cancer experience. At last night’s OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center Cancer Survivors’ Dinner at Lewis and Clark College in Godfrey, Moeller said he was excited to be a part of making sure that anyone who faces cancer will get the highest-quality treatment and supportive services under one roof at the new cancer center on the OSF Saint Anthony’s campus that will host a grand opening October 8.

While introducing Moeller as the keynote speaker for this year’s dinner. OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center President and CEO Ajay Pathak pointed out that along with the new building’s many patient-centered design features, an expanded cancer care program will connect patients to clinical trials, making OSF Saint Anthony’s a national model for comprehensive cancer treatment.

The center is named for Moeller, who along with his wife Amy, donated $1 million dollars toward the $14 million dollar state-of-the-art center and pledged $150,000 for annual sponsorship of the Foundation golf outing which supports the Oncology program.

Moeller told survivors, “You are what it’s all about.” He added, “When you are faced with a disease, you tend to live in the present. That is the abundant life Jesus came here for.” Moeller acknowledged he has had an abundant life that really began when he fully committed himself to serving God.

Cancer survivors were acknowledged as they were asked to stand while successive increments of cancer-free years were announced. A few in the room rose to great applause to acknowledge more than 30 years of living without the disease that will claim the lives of an estimated 24, 410 people in Illinois this year according to the American Cancer Society.

OSF Saint Anthony’s Chief Operating Officer Sister M. Anselma reminded survivors that Mission Partners are the driving force behind the annual dinner.

“It is our Mission Partners in the Cancer Program that make all of the decisions and make this happen. They made the gifts that are on your table. They decided on colors and flowers and décor and activities, she said. ”And each of them are here to serve you this evening, as they do every day.”

Earlier in the evening, survivors helped create a symbolic work of art that was given to the Moellers representing the night’s theme: “New Beginnings.” Oncology Medical Assistant Tanya McIntosh created the butterfly cut-outs. The goal of this project was to create a piece of art work that represented courage and perseverance. In doing so the butterfly emerged as the ambassador of life in its simplest most beautiful form, said McIntosh. She added, “It is said that butterflies are a symbol of hope, change, and endurance.”

A Big Reveal

Art that supports healing will be an important feature in the new Moeller Cancer Center and survivors received a surprise sneak peek at the largest art installation that will line a nearly 17 foot-long hallway leading to the new state-of-the-art linear accelerator which can deliver precisely-targeted radiation to preserve healthy tissue.

The concept was suggested by eight-year breast cancer survivor Heather Jones, a certified breast health navigator for OSF Saint Anthony’s. The inspiration is being translated by local artist Tracy Sayers Trombetta who is creating a texture-filled sunny beach with glistening waves rolling in with footprints in the sand and the phrase … “It was then that I carried you” from a poem about faith and perseverance by Mary Fishback Powers.

Before the reveal of the nearly finished work on large projection screens, Jones explained how each time she came for treatment, she would walk down the long hallway for radiation alone because no one is allowed in the area but the patient.

In her loneliness and fear, Jones returned often to the Footprints in the Sand poem for comfort.

Jones called it sheer providence that she was selected for the committee that would choose the final art selections from among 1,200 submissions and that Trombetta, who owns The Painting Lady on E Broadway in Alton, was eager to fulfill the vision. .

Trombetta is incorporating into her painting, sand she brought back from a spur-of-the-moment trip to Cancun last January. The artist joked she had no idea why she kept taking photographs of footprints in the sand but now she believes it was divine intervention.

“Sometimes in life when things fall into place, you’ve just got to sit back and let it happen,” she suggested as she smiled and giggled about the opportunity to provide solace to the many patients who’ll walk that hallway in the new Moeller Cancer Center