Cancer Survivors Share Their Personal Triumphs

Celebrating Survivors

Cancer survivors in support groups at Renown Institute for Cancer share what motivated and gave them strength through their treatment. 

National Cancer Survivors Day (NCSD) – June 7 – is not only a day of celebration for those who have survived cancer, but it’s also an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community. The NCSD Foundation describes a survivor as “anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”

At Renown Health, seven survivors in two of Renown’s Institute for Cancer support groups shared with us an honest and personal answer to the following question: How did you stay motivated or find strength while you were going through your cancer treatment?

In their answers, they shared their personal details, provided encouragement and used words such as, love, inspire, supportive and faith to detail what helped them through this time in their lives.

Find out what they would like others battling the disease to know. 

Cancer Survivor Liz BarnesLiz Barnes
“Thinking positive thoughts, meditating and surrounding myself with a strong support system in my family and friends. The guided meditation I started with Rene Anderson was truly helpful and I continued it throughout my mastectomy, my chemo treatments, reconstruction surgery and 33 radiation treatments.

My husband and two adult daughters were instrumental in keeping my spirits up, ensuring I ate healthy meals, driving me to appointments, keeping me company and helping me to focus on a good outcome. Their love and support was so powerful and so evident and rather than talk me out of any moments of sadness or fear, they acknowledged that it was OK to have them but encouraged me to keep positive.

There were many special moments during my treatment – playing Pictionary on my iPad during chemo treatments with my husband and daughters, having a picnic in bed with my husband on one of my down days after a chemo treatment and above all, using laughter and humor as much as possible to lighten the atmosphere.”
Larry Cancer SurvivorLarry Berry
“Upon learning that I had stage 4 bladder cancer, my focus was on my options.

After my Urologist scraped away as much of the cancer as he possible could, without going through the bladder wall, he suggested the removal of the bladder and perhaps some chemo and/or radiation. For me, it was decision time and I didn’t want to lose my bladder and contend with the various conditions that may occur.

After researching for my options that most of the cancer sites had to offer, I soon learned that they were mostly all the same, a 50/50 chance and you may gain five years of life. Flipping a coin is 50/50 which is not the greatest odds. I started researching natural healing options and was surprised to learn that some odds were as high as a 60/80 percent cure rate – there is one more side to the coin, the edge. With the help of my dedicated wife, we went for the holistic healing process. The process I used included natural cancer killers and it made me feel like I had General Patton’s army helping me kill my energy.

After four months, my Urologist said my bladder was pristine. I came out of his office, holding my wife’s hand, I threw my arms up and said thanks as I crossed the parking lot. Thank you God.

It’s been seven years and my bladder still functions like it did when I was 20 and I am now 77 years old.”

Cindy English Cancer SurvivorCindy England
“I am still in treatment, but even at its worst, the key for me to persevere is to stay connected with people who care about me. I find strength in God and never give up hope.

Through the support of my husband and daughter who inspire me to look beyond the pain so I can live, I find the strength to press on. I am blessed with a few amazing friends who brought meals, sent me encouraging cards and texts (which I read over and over again), sat with me during chemotherapy, still help clean my house or give up an afternoon to keep me company.

I’ve made friends with other cancer patients through the Cancer Support Group at Renown, and there is nothing that can match true compassion and understanding that comes from another who has been where I am going. The treatment makes me cry a lot, so I have to find a reason to laugh – even if it means doing it through tears.”

John Royer Cancer SurvivorJohn Royer
“Having my wife of 45 years with me during this time – plus our faith in God and all the prayers for us. The great doctors and being up front and answering all the questions we had. I went through with robotic surgery and one year later I’m finishing up eight weeks of radiation. Dr. Kos has been great as my doctor during this time.”




Debra Rosales Cancer SurvivorDebra Rosales
“I try to continue to stay positive. I have a very supportive family – a fabulous husband, Tony, and my daughter, Jazmin. Without my daughter or husband I don’t think I’d be able to do this alone. I love my doctors – Dr. Sharon Wright (surgeon) and Dr. Margaret Van Meter (chemotherapy) not to mention all of the staff and Renown nurses who have cared for me. I am thankful for Renown – they are number one.”  



Nancy Cancer SurvivorNancy Slatin
“I found strength through the support and prayers I received from my wonderful family and many supportive friends. The nurses, doctors and all staff at Renown were fabulous and very kind and helpful. I feel so lucky to have the Renown Institute for Cancer here in Reno and all the wonderful programs available to cancer survivors and their family members. 
The women’s cancer support group at Renown is a life saver for me, it offers a meeting format enabling participants to share experiences and express feelings and concerns. I will continue to be a member forever, it allows me to help others and I’ve made many wonderful friends!”

Duane Cancer SurvivorDuane Warth
“I do not think motivation has much to do with an individual’s cancer treatment.  Motivation is more involved in the process of taking a serious interest in your general health and when problems do arise, going to the physician to determine what the problem is and what treatment is needed. When treating cancer the motivation process has already been completed for the most part. Now that the treatment has started you will follow thru the process and hopeful find an effective solution to your difficulty.

I will always remember that special moment when I went in operating room and saw the Da Vinci robot sitting in the corner of the room. I asked the surgeon is that the machine? It looked like a giant erector set. And then the lights went out.

A special person is Jane O’Brien who was the therapist who helped me thru my urinary incontinence. My case was one of the worst the surgeon had seen in all of his cases. After three years the problem is still there, but reduced greatly. Jane left the area and is in a hospital on the east coast. Our loss is their gain. I will always owe her a debt of gratitude.”


  1. The entire treatment program at Renown was both comprehensive and remarkable. The range of services is wide and the staff are unusually supportive and warm. The nurses worked so well with the physicians and were so compassionate with my wife Liz and other patients. Liz felt that they genuinely cared for her as a person. The Support Group meant (and continues to mean) a great amount to her, as well. Another part that was extremely helpful was the Cancer Support Center where she was provided with free wigs, free hats and caps, free scarves, and access to an extensive library of books on the subject. These "little things" meant a lot to her at the time.