03/30/14 — Gathering to celebrate life, fighters

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Gathering to celebrate life, fighters

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on March 30, 2014 1:50 AM

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Cancer survivor Christine Smalls describes her battle with the disease.

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More than 400 people attended the Cures for the Colors first survivors' banquet at First Pentecostal Holiness Church on Friday.

More than 400 people, many of them cancer survivors, packed First Pentecostal Holiness Church on Friday to celebrate the first Cures for the Colors survivors' banquet.

The cancer-fighting Cures for the Colors event, sponsored by the non-profit volunteer organization Southeastern Cancer Care, will be Friday and Saturday, April 25-26.

The banquet served as a warmup for the event, which will feature several long-distance foot races and walks in addition to games, food and entertainment.

More than a dozen cancer survivors gave emotional testimonials during the banquet. All praised the work of Southeastern Cancer Care, which was started by the employees of Southeastern Medical Oncology Center.

The charity spends all of the money it raises in eastern North Carolina, helping cancer patients obtain the essentials of life, such as groceries or utility bills or gas to drive to treatment appointments -- while they are undergoing treatment or after they have undergone treatment.

Before the testimonials, one of the doctors at Southeastern Medical Oncology turned the tables on the crowd, thanking them for what they do.

"We thank you, for being who you are, for teaching us to hope," Dr. Samer Kasbari said.

Kasbari traced the beginning of the nonprofit group to 2011.

"Over the years, we kept hearing the same concerns, the same issues," he said. "Patients in eastern North Carolina, in our county and surrounding counties, during their treatment for cancer, have a tough time. The financial burden, along with the diagnosis, is tremendous."

Dr. Kasbari noted that the money from Cures for the Colors does not just go to patients of his practice, but to cancer patients all over eastern North Carolina. The group's name comes from the fact that each type of cancer is associated with a different color -- pink for breast cancer, blue for colon cancer, green for kidney cancer, etc.

People in need of financial help can apply with the patient advocates who work at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, which has offices in Goldsboro, Wilson, Clinton and Jacksonville.

"We're very proud this organization has grown and is serving folks battling cancer from I-95 all the way to the coast," Dr. Kasbari said. "Thank you for your determination, your faith in yourself and in God."

Cures for the Colors will begin at 7 p.m. on April 25, followed by the lantern release in honor or memory of family members or friends.

On Saturday, youngsters can enjoy inflatables, face painting, clowns and a dunking booth. Volunteers will be selling barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, and other treats.

The 100-mile ultra-marathon will begin Friday at 2 p.m. On Saturday, a certified marathon will start at 7 a.m., with the 100-mile team event and the individual 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer runs all starting at 9 a.m.

For more information call 919-587-9044, visit www.southeasterncancer.org or e-mail cureforcolors@cancersmoc.com.