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      Cancer survivors celebrate life at annual picnic

      There are 14 million cancer survivors nationwide, and Sunday in Traverse City hundreds of those survivors came out to celebrate what theyâ??ve overcome at the 27th annual Cancer Survivors Picnic sponsored by Munson Medical Center.

      â??It's taken some tolls, but I'm still able to get up and get around. I'm happy and I thank God every day,â?? Bob Evans said.

      Bob Evans is a cancer survivor of 13 years. He attended the picnic because he knows how lucky he is to be alive.

      â??You see all these people; some are in a lot worse shape than I am. Some are not as bad of shape and they're out here, and they're happy and they're just thankful to be alive.â??

      Hundreds of survivors and their families came together to celebrate this triumph, along with the caregivers who helped them through this journey.

      â??I really believe that the people who choose to care for cancer patients have the ability to have that thankfulness in their heart, for life itself,â?? said Christa Kiessel, Munson Medical Center Cancer Program Interim Director.

      The picnic was filled with food, music, massages and a prize drawing, but the most important part may have been the bonding with survivors.

      â??When they see genuine love and care from the people who have walked with them through some of their most difficult moments, it's almost like a reunion of sorts to come and celebrate those relationships and also celebrate being alive."

      Survivors at the event agree there is a bond between them that no one else can understand.

      â??We basically know what each other has gone through, physically and mentally. To me, you can't have one without the other. It's just something that's there, and that's the bond,â?? Evans said.

      Although the picnic has been going on for 27 years, it continues to grow. 300 people came to the event this year, up from 200 people last year.

      Doctors say the ability to individualize treatments has helped increase cancer survival rates in recent years.