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Supporting Survivors of Cancer

Credit LIz West / Creative Commons
Creative Commons

More than a million people get cancer every year in the United States, with about 22,000 new cases in Connecticut in 2014. But, thanks to better detection and more advanced treatment, the number of people surviving cancer is growing rapidly. There are 13 million survivors alive today.

So, most of us likely know someone with cancer...a neighbor, a friend, or more often, a member of our family.

The American Cancer Society says that three-out-of-four families have at least one person in their family who has survived cancer...and that number is rising every year. 

Surviving is a long and arduous process that takes an emotional toll on the whole family. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family has cancer too.

Most hospitals offer a wide variety of supports to families in need - from help with insurance forms and advice on what to eat to help in finding a wig to cover a person’s loss of hair. But, each cancer is as unique as the person who has it, making it hard to meet the needs of everyone.

But, as our guests today will tell you, surviving cancer is part of a long and difficult journey that may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and what may seem like an endless battery of tests and scans that challenge a survivor’s strength and spirit.

And, that’s just the treatment.

There are still families to feed, jobs to perform, and bills to pay...not an easy task when we feel well. Are we doing enough to support cancer patients in their time of need?

Today, we talk to survivors and their families about what has worked for them and how we can do better.

We’d love to hear your stories, too.


  • Ellen Dornelas is a psychologist for Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute
  • Hanna Chao is a primary care/urgent care physician at Yale and teaches at the VA in West Haven. She’s also a cancer survivor
  • Victor You is a 7th grade student at Amity Middle School in Bethany and Hanna’s son
  • Georg Papp Georg Papp is the owner of Bull Hill Workshopand the author of "The Authority of Outhouse/Backhouse/Privy Building" 
  • Pat Peta is a retired nurse and cancer survivor

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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