EBENSBURG About five years ago, a very physically active Dale Lauer became tired while playing a match of tennis with a friend.
Something just wasnt right.
His wife, Cheryl, immediately made him a doctors appointment. Blood tests revealed Lauer had leukemia.
Today, Lauer, an Ebensburg native, is cancer-free.
Last week, he joined more than 135 fellow five-year cancer survivors at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois, to participate in Cancer Treatment Centers of Americas 29th annual Celebrate Life event.
Celebrate Life is an event that brings together cancer survivors and caregivers for a day of support, celebration and encouragement for those who arestill fighting their battles with cancer.
Lauer said a friend of the family connected him with the Cancer Center in Zion, where he completed two unsuccessful rounds of induction chemotherapy.
On Oct. 3 of that year, Lauer had a stem-cell transplant a procedure with a success rate of less than 10 percent that allowed him to be cancer-free ever since.
It was extremely aggressive treatment, he recalls.
On June 9, Lauer, his wife and three sons Joel, Ryan and Brock arrived with the other survivors at the Midwestern Regional Medical Center, walking down a red carpet lined with family, friends, caregivers and hospital care team members.
After the red carpet walk, Lauer and his family were part of a commemorative tree-planting ceremony.At each of the 29 annual Celebrate Life events, a tree is planted in honor of each five-year cancer survivor in attendance.
After five years of survivorship, Im back to doing the things I love, Lauer said. By staying positive, paying attention to my health and maintaining a will to live, Ive returned to riding bikes, playing tennis and surrounding myself with my loving family and community.
Five years ago, this amazing group of cancer survivors came to Cancer Treatment Centers of America with a great sense of hope, searching for answers and cancer care that fit their specific needs, said Scott Jones, president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern.While everyones journey and experience is unique, we honor and respect the strength and perseverance it takes for them to be here.
Lauer said his longest say at the Cancer Center in Zion was about four months, during which every staff member treated him like family.
Its not a hospital, its heaven on earth, he said.
When you walk in the door, theres people in there who want you to have the best day of your life. Its really like a family.
Lauer is also involved with the Cancer Fighters program at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where he said hes thrilled to share my story.
Cancer Fighters allows survivors and caretakers such as Lauer and his wife to answer questions and share their journey with recently diagnosed patients seeking treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers across the country.
Lauer especially creditsthe support of family, friends, neighbors, doctors and nurses provided during his battle against leukemia.
The miracles that came my way were just astronomical, he said.
Jocelyn Brumbaugh is a reporter for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @JBrumbaughTD.
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