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Heroes of Hope Celebration of Life Held in Clarksburg

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CLARKSBURG -

Staff from the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center hosted a celebration of life on Saturday. "Heroes of Hope" was held to honor the veterans who won the battle with cancer or are still fighting.

"It is an inspiration to some of the cancer patients that are here who are still fighting to see that there is an end point to this, so all the suffering that they have gone through there is a reason why they're doing it," said Pam Snyder, an RN in the Oncology Unit of the hospital.

Snyder helped to organize the event and she said she wanted the current patients at the ceremony to take away a feeling of hope.

"I watch them everyday struggle with it, and I tell them everyday that they need to take it day by day, there is an end point in sight," Snyder explained.

In addition to lunch served by the VA Medical Center staff, two cancer survivors spoke about their personal experiences. Roxanne Pheasant was one of them.

"I developed breast cancer in April of 2012 and I went for treatment in May, I had six rounds of chemo, I had surgery in October, and finished up radiation in January," explained Pheasant.

Pheasant is now cancer free, and wanted to send a message to everyone at "Heroes of Hope."

"Everyday is a gift, and you should experience everyday of life and embrace it," Pheasant said.

Dr. Riaz Cassim is the co-director of the cancer center at the VA Medical Center and sees first hand how difficult cancer can be on a patient. He said seeing survivors at the dinner is encouraging.

"It's very reassuring and it also makes you feel like you're doing something that has meaning. It gives us closure for our profession; this is what makes us feel good. We do this because we want to give patients life and a quality of life to spend time with their family and do what they want to do in their lives," said Cassim.

The Heroes of Hope Angel Award was also given out at the celebration. Nominations were made from staff members, patients, and family members of patients for who should win.

Representatives from the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center said the "Heroes of Hope" ceremony will become an annual event.