The annual celebration takes place two days before National Cancer Survivors’ Day.
After returning from vacation in March 2003, Sorensen learned he had gastrointestinal cancer. He underwent treatment at CTCA, including a 101⁄2-hour surgery to remove a grapefruit-sized tumor from his pelvic area.
Sorensen called cancer the hardest thing he has ever experienced, but he thanks God that CTCA helped him live to celebrate 25 years of marriage, see his first grandchild born and walk his daughter down the aisle.
“After all the ups and downs of learning to live with a colostomy and ileostomy, the strange thing is that it actually made me a better person,” Sorensen said. “It took me from a stubborn, set-in-his-ways guy to a more caring and helpful husband. The thought of losing it all scared me to death.”
The regional “Celebrate Life” event kicked off with a tree-planting ceremony and white dove release on the hospital grounds.
Like the other five-year survivors, Sorensen received a commemorative plaque and an engraved leaf on the brass “Tree of Life” in the hospital’s lobby.
“Every day is worth celebrating when you’ve faced cancer and survived,” said Denise Geuder, vice president of patient services at CTCA’s Southwestern Regional Medical Center. “It is a moving, memorable experience to see so many cancer survivors and the common bond they share.
“Reaching the five-year survivor mark gives hope to our current treating patients here at our hospital and encourages them to continue their battle against cancer. ”