Maxine Solvay had a personal interest in her job planning a vigil for cancer survivors and their families Friday night.

Paul Wong
Ann Arbor residents and members of the University community joined together for a candlelight vigil honoring those who have died or suffered from cancer Friday.<br><br>LESLIE WARD/Daily

“I am a 15-year cancer survivor and I”ve lost a sister to brain cancer, so the event has a special meaning to me the importance to give people a place to share their losses and become strengthened by others,” Solvay said.

Solvay, the University”s Comprehensive Cancer Center”s marketing communications coordinator, Solvay was joined by more than 100 people in front of the Cancer Center to light candles and provide support for each other. Survivors and family members and friends of cancer patients were given a chance to light a candle and leave mementos of their loved ones.

The vigil included a video with pictures of patients treated at the Cancer Center and the doctors and staff who treated them, songs performed by the Voices of Healing choir and soloists and testimony by people who lost loved ones to cancer.

Solvay added that cancer is often a tougher challenge for the family and friends of a patient.

“In many ways I think it”s harder for the family to watch someone go through this and not to physically be able to help them,” she said. “It”s a fine line being a cheerleader but also allowing the person to have their deep feelings.”

Grief and Loss Coordinator Susan Wintermeyer-Pingel, who has also worked 16 years as a nurse in the Cancer Center, said the family and friends of victims shouldn”t hide their pain.

“People need to talk about it and get help when you need help. It”s though talking about death, but it”s okay to ask for help,” she said.

Ann Arbor resident Ladale Brown, whose wife died of cancer, said he came to share his experiences as a tribute to her and other cancer victims. He said speaking at the event helped console his pain.

“You don”t feel so alone,” he said. “I met people who have already been where I”ve am in the grieving process and talking to them was really encouraging to me.”

Rev. Joel Beam, who led a prayer service at the vigil, said he was moved by the outpouring of support.

“I had to forget that I had to be involved in the service emotionally as well as being involved actively in directing the choir,” he said. “It”s an extremely powerful ceremony, and I”m privileged to be a part of it.”

Beam, who is also the chaplain at the Cancer Center, deals with cancer patients daily. He said people with the disease need to overcome mental obstacles.

“The ones who tend to live through it are the ones who take it as a challenge and make up there mind with a positive attitude that they are going to survive this, or at least survive as long as can be,” he said.

Wintermeyer-Pingel said that she has learned much from patients she has treated.

“I”m always amazed when I think I”m having a bad day, and then I talk with one of my patients” family and I realize how blessed I am. They have taught me what”s important in life,” Wintermeyer-Pingel said.

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