When Peggy Mothershead learned non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was to blame for the pains she'd been feeling, the doctor told her if they beat it into remission, she needed to prepare for it to likely come back.

"I told that doctor then it would just have to catch me," Mothershead said.

And nine years later, it still hasn't.

Why? Ask Mothershead and she'll tell you surviving is about thriving and staying positive.

"If you have a pity party, you'll be the only one who shows up," she'll tell you. "And who wants to party by themselves?"

Earlier this month, Mothershead joined other cancer survivors at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and partied it up over lunch, games and fellowship in celebration of their survivorship.cancer survivor day

The event was meant to bring cancer survivors together in honor of the 29th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, recognized officially on June 5.

"I know being diagnosed with cancer is life changing," said AnnMarie Simmons, BSN, RN, OCN, Riverside Tappahannock's Oncology Program Nurse Coordinator. "We wanted to take this time to celebrate all of you, because it is not an easy journey."

Nearly 14.5 million people are living with and beyond cancer in the U.S., with more than 32 million cancer survivors worldwide, according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation.

"We define survivors as anyone living with a history of cancer, and that's from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, whatever that may be," said Fran Holcomb, BSN, RN, an oncology nurse who works for Riverside Health System's cancer care programs who helped plan the event.

She is working with Simmons, who recently joined the Riverside Tappahannock family to expand cancer services in the region. 

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital's celebration took place after the official day, organizers said, to ensure more survivors could participate given that June 5 fell on a Sunday.

No matter when it was held, the mission was still the same –come together to recognize the cancer survivors in the community, raise awareness of the challenges survivors face and celebrate life.

"I know being diagnosed with cancer is life changing," said AnnMarie Simmons, BSN, RN, OCN, Riverside Tappahannock's Oncology Program Nurse Coordinator. "We wanted to take this time to celebrate all of you, because it is not an easy journey."

Nearly 14.5 million people are living with and beyond cancer in the U.S., with more than 32 million cancer survivors worldwide, according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation.

"We define survivors as anyone living with a history of cancer, and that's from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, whatever that may be," said Fran Holcomb, BSN, RN, an oncology nurse who works for Riverside Health System's cancer care programs who helped plan the event.

She is working with Simmons, who recently joined the Riverside Tappahannock family to expand cancer services in the region. 

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital's celebration took place after the official day, organizers said, to ensure more survivors could participate given that June 5 fell on a Sunday.

No matter when it was held, the mission was still the same –come together to recognize the cancer survivors in the community, raise awareness of the challenges survivors face and celebrate life.

"Congratulations and kudos to each of you," Esther Desimini, Vice President and Administrator of Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, who also happens to be an oncologist nursing specialist, told the group. "What a wonderful thing to celebrate. But it's not really just a day, is it? It's every moment of every day when you get up and look outside, taking in all you see, saying to yourself, "I'm thankful for today!" "Congratulations and kudos to each of you," Esther Desimini, Vice President and Administrator of Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, who also happens to be an oncologist nursing specialist, told the group. "What a wonderful thing to celebrate. But it's not really just a day, is it? It's every moment of every day when you get up and look outside, taking in all you see, saying to yourself, "I'm thankful for today!"

Published: June 1, 2016