‘It keeps me positive’ says attendee at cancer survivors ice cream social

Cancer Survivors and Thrivers Ice Cream Social gives people diagnosed with the disease a chance encourage and learn from each other.
Updated: Jun. 4, 2023 at 10:30 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The annual Cancer Survivors and Thrivers Ice Cream Social enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon. For organizers and attendees, the event’s return means a key support system for patients is back too.

“Oh, I think it’s fantastic; it keeps me positive,” said Ed Hopkins. “They help me out, and I’m helping out, you know, paying it forward.”

Hopkins was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017 but has been cancer free for the past year. He says the SSM Health-hosted event is a huge source of encouragement and mentorship for those battling cancer, getting mentorship from people who have beat the disease and can guide them through the challenges of treatment.

“Because I have good advice about what type of treatment I should have, right now I keep on paying it forward,” said Hopkins.

The event started in 2011, taking a three-year hiatus due to COVID. SSM Health radiation oncologist Dr. Michelle Mackay says the event started with around 50 attendees, but she has watched it grow to welcome hundreds of people.

“I think it’s a whole new level with having the pandemic and knowing that we couldn’t socialize in the same way to have this back; it makes it more meaningful than ever,” said Dr. Mackay.

The event is free and features music and ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe. This year’s social also coincided with National Cancer Survivor’s Day.

“There’s, of course, a lot of hard work and a lot of emotional investment in cancer treatment, and to celebrate getting through that cancer treatment and survivorship is just such a wonderful cause,” said Mackay.

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