Members of the Cancer Research Advocacy Group (CRAG) at the Survivor Summit

Audience members participate in roundtable discussions

Dr. Neil Iyengar, CCIL member Erik Nelson, Dr. Noel Arring

Dozens of cancer survivors, caregivers, advocates, and researchers connected at the inaugural Cancer Survivor Summit on June 24 at the I Hotel and Conference Center.

The free summit introduced people to cancer-related resources, educated them on advancements in care and diagnosis, and allowed them to network with others who know what it’s like to live through a cancer diagnosis.

Erik Nelson, leader of the Cancer Research Advocacy Group and CCIL member, kicked off the event with a summary of cancer research and care advancements. Audience members heard from two experts, including Dr. Noel Arring from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She spoke about creating survivorship plans and how to navigate a “new normal” after diagnosis – from battling fatigue to balancing relationships. A second presentation came from Dr. Neil Iyengar, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He broke down details about lifestyle connections to cancer.

During a survivorship panel, nurse navigators explained their work to help patients. They also highlighted how important it is for survivors to receive guidance and support throughout their treatment process. The day ended with roundtable discussions on topics ranging from lymphedema management to financial toxicity.

Nelson said the enthusiastic response from the community shows how important it is for survivors to connect. He said the event was also well-attended by researchers and clinicians.

“It shows how much we wanted to hear from survivors and their challenges, and how we could change our research to start addressing that or change our clinical practice to better help survivors.”

— Erik Nelson, CCIL member and CRAG leader

The Cancer Center at Illinois’ Cancer Research Advocacy Group sponsored the Survivor Summit in partnership with the CCIL. Other participants included the Prairie Dragon Paddlers, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Carle Health, and Christie Clinic.

Survivor Summit participants engaging in a roundtable discussion

Prairie Dragon Paddlers table at the Survivor Summit

Story by Jessica Clegg, CCIL communications. Photos by Andréa Fain and Tyler Wolpert.