Cancer survivors bond over life at annual dinner in Marble Falls

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — After doctors diagnosed Sheila Cooper with breast cancer more than five years ago, she admitted that talking about it with other people wasn’t easy. So she understands if some cancer survivors are apprehensive about attending the annual Survivors’ Dinner on April 16 at Lakeside Pavilion.

“Some people may not want to come because they may feel they’ll have to talk about their cancer, and they don’t really want to, but you don’t have to,” Cooper said. “You can talk about the bluebonnets, you can talk about your day or anything you want. Some people do talk about their cancer because that’s one of the things that binds us all together. But mostly, I want people to come and have a night of enjoyment and fun.”

This year’s event, themed “Superheroes Wanted,” is free to cancer survivors and one guest. It’s 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive. Survivors may register by stopping by Texas Oncology or Texas Home Health, which are adjacent to each other at 1100 Mission Hills Drive.

Cooper attended her first Survivors’ Dinner four years ago. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but by that time, she was comfortable talking with others about her disease. Still, Cooper didn’t find a group of folks walking around saying, “Hey, let me tell you about my cancer.” Instead, she found people linked by living.

Still, the shared experience gave each of them a common bond. And for people who have battled or are battling the disease, that bond can be important.

“It is easier to talk to somebody who has been through or is going through what you’ve gone through,” Cooper said. “We can relate to each other. Somebody without cancer may understand the disease and even have a great clinical knowledge of cancer, but if they haven’t had it, it’s different.

“There’s an emotional piece you really can’t understand unless you’ve personally experienced cancer,” she added.

Cooper attended her first two Survivors’ Dinners simply as a participant, but last year and this year, she’s a volunteer.

“I’m doing well (she’s five years out, and her cancer is in remission), and I don’t want others to miss out on this event. I want to help them celebrate,” Cooper said. “Besides, there’s so much to do, and I wanted to be part of this and part of this special community.”

The Survivors’ Dinner features a meal provided by Paul Brady and the River City Grille as well as musical entertainment by John Arthur Martinez.

And survivors can talk about anything they want, Cooper added with a smile — not just cancer.

“It’s a very open and fun event. There’s a lot of laughter and smiles,” she said. “Having cancer, it’s a club you really don’t want to be in, but it’s a very close-knit community, and the dinner is a great way to be a part of the community.”

Call (830) 798-0149 or (830) 798-8272 for more information.

The Survivors’ Dinner is part of the Burnet County Relay for Life, which is April 25 on the Burnet courthouse square. Call Patia Sandifer at (512) 919-1867 for more information on the Relay for Life.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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