“I wanted it to be a chance for everyone to see each other as human beings. I’m not seeing you as just a cancer patient but a person. You’re not seeing me as your cancer doctor but as a human being.”
That’s how Dr. Anup Lahiry of the Longstreet Clinic described the origins of Harvest of Hope, a festival he started to give people touched by cancer in the community an opportunity to come together outside of the doctor’s office.
With the event now in its 12th year, those who have been touched by cancer have a chance to “come out of their shell as a patient,” Lahiry said, and live full lives regardless of the disease that affects them.
The goal of Hope of Harvest, sponsored each year by the Longstreet Clinic and Hope Glory and Life ministry, is to educate the public on cancer-related issues as well as celebrate survivorship through games, knowledge and community.
With approximately 200 people registered for Saturday’s event, word about the celebration is getting around town.
“We wanted to make the event a lot of fun this year,” said Jennifer Lafond, cancer program coordinator for the Longstreet Clinic.
Lafond described the Harvest of Hope event as part of the survivorship program at the Longstreet Clinic. The Hope Glory and Life ministry also sponsors other events throughout the year to enrich the lives of those affected by cancer.
“I love seeing all the cancer patients come together as one. We see them coming in for treatments, and this is a chance for us to see them having fun,” Lafond said.
Local vendors provided information and educated attendees about obstacles cancer patients face.
Harvest of Hope also had a number of volunteers serving throughout the day, mostly Longstreet Clinic staff.
Will Davis, a three-year cancer survivor, described the event as a time to “truly forget the disease.”
“When your life is constantly having to do with chemo or doctor’s visits or feeling limited in what you can do in your life, there’s nothing better than having a chance to get together with others who understand and think about anything other than cancer,” he said.