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Edgar Ver Steeg celebrates life with more than 100 fellow cancer survivors

dgar Ver Steeg of ​Hancock ​(center), a five-year cancer survivor celebrated life on June 6​, 2014​ at the Celebrate Life Tree planting ceremony with Richard J Stephenson, chairman of the Board (right), and Robert Mayo, vice chairman of the Board (left), at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center. A tree will be planted in Ver Steeg's honor. This year, over​ 300 trees were planted in honor of all five-year cancer survivor​s. ​

by Caroline Baumgartner

Edgar Ver Steeg, a colon cancer survivor from Hancock, joined more than 100 five-year cancer survivors on Friday, June 6, for an emotional and momentous walk down a red carpet lined with hundreds of cheering family, friends, caregivers and hospital care team members, to celebrate five years of cancer survivorship. Ver Steeg also took part in a tree planting ceremony, symbolizing the wonder of life and growth. The activities were all part of the annual Celebrate Life event held at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Midwestern Regional Medical Center (Midwestern), a time for cancer survivors to come together to rejoice in their personal milestones and to support one another as they continue their cancer survivorship journey.

The 2014 Celebrate Life event marks the 26th year that a tree has been planted in honor of each five-year survivor, providing the nation with a thriving forest of life-giving trees representing cancer survivorship.  Participants honored represented 41 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Island, each offering support and strength to others, as they proudly posed for a photo in front of their commemorative tree.

“I’ve continued to farm grain, specifically growing corn and soybeans. I’ve also watched my grandkids play their favorite sports,” said Ver Steeg. “Being a five-year survivor let me continue my job as a farmer which I enjoy very much. It means being with my wife of 50 years, being able to travel together, attend different events, spend time at church worshipping with other members and making memories with family and friends.”

The 2014 Celebrate Life event also included a gourmet luncheon with natural and organic foods prepared by the culinary team from the Wholesome Bistro, the CTCA in-hospital restaurant. Each celebrant was also honored with an engraved gold leaf, which is proudly displayed on one of three ever-growing “trees of life” located within the hospital.

Before the day concluded, many of the five-year survivors took time to walk through the hospital to offer comfort and support to other patients and family members who are battling cancer.

“I am continually humbled and amazed at the strength, resilience and fortitude of our patients and their caregivers,” said Scott Jones, president and CEO of CTCA at Midwestern. “At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, our goal is to surround each patient with a Patient Empowered Care team delivering integrative, evidence based care throughout their journey so they can Celebrate Life every day.”

For more information on Celebrate Life or CTCA at Midwestern please visit www.cancercenter. com/midwestern.