“I’m standing upright on the right side of the dirt,” Thompson, 69, of Hagerstown, said Monday night at the Maugansville Ruritan building, where she was among the guests at an annual dinner to celebrate local cancer survivors.
While sleet and freezing rain fell steadily outside, guests gathered around tables covered in red tablecloths, and the smell of fried chicken, lasagna and ham wafted through the room.
While cancer survivors are always a focus during the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, the dinner was started five years ago to do something more for cancer survivors, organizers said.
Door prizes such as candles, stuffed animals and Relay for Life items lined a wall.
The scheduled speaker for the event was Lance de la Cruz, a cancer survivor from Boonsboro who was told he had six months to live when he was diagnosed, according to his brother-in-law, Rob Lewis, committee chairman this year for Relay for Life of Washington County.
It has been six years since his diagnosis, and Lewis attributes the successful fight against the disease to a doctor who has been aggressive in treating it.
Thompson said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation to treat the cancer. Today, Thompson said she is considered to be in remission.
Dinner guest Pat Patterson, 80, of Funkstown, said he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2003.
“It was real bad at first,” said Patterson, who said he has now been given a clean bill of health.
Bruce Saunders of Hagerstown said he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2009.
“He was scared. He wouldn’t tell you, but he was,” said Saunders’ son, Bruce Saunders Jr., as the two sat at a table awaiting dinner.