UPMC hosts cancer survivors picnic

Mirror photo by Russ O’Reilly / UPMC Altoona Chief Operating Officer Ron McConnell welcomes the crowd at the third annual Cancer Survivors Appreciation Picnic.

TIPTON — On a warm September day, about 1,400 people attended UPMC Altoona’s Cancer Survivors Appreciation Picnic at DelGrosso’s Amuse­ment Park.

Ron McConnell, UPMC Altoona’s chief operating officer, welcomed survivors, their families and guests Saturday.

“This is a celebration — a great day where everyone affected by cancer can meet with their physicians, have lunch and celebrate life,” McConnell said.

Cancer survivors proudly sported survivor shirts while enjoying the amusement park with their children. The physicians who were integral in their battle shared the experience.

It was the third annual picnic hosted by the UPMC Altoona Foundation, UPMC Health Plan, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and UPMC Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery.

Dr. Lauren Deur, who specializes in mammography, surveyed the crowd, happy to see survivors gathered.

“My goal is to find cancer early so we have survivors. I’m a big advocate of annual screenings so women can come here years later and say ‘I am a survivor,'” she said.

Deur said many women are confused by various sources differing on what age they should begin going to the doctor for annual mammograms, but the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast imaging recommends to start at age 40, she said.

Breast cancer survivor Juliana Sklarsky, her husband, John, and their grandchildren enjoyed the support and camaraderie.

“It’s nice to see everyone who is surviving,” she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.