Tree of Hope honors and remembers those who've battled breast cancer


    The Tree of Hope at Harris Medical Park in Sylva. The Tree of Hope honors and remembers those who've battled breast cancer. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    SYLVA, N.C. -- The decorations are all too real: Real names of real people who've battled breast cancer.

    "It's been almost five years since I had the surgery and right now I'm cancer free, and things are good," breast cancer survivor Sandra Perrigo said.

    Other journeys haven't had the same outcome.

    Those cards are hung in memory on a Tree of Hope at Harris Medical Park in Sylva. Most, though, honor survivors.

    "We celebrate many things," breast services navigator Carol Vancleve said. "We celebrate the life; we encourage our patients and want to give them hope."

    "We just want to honor those who have gone through this process and survived and have hope for the future," Perrigo added.

    Still, the reality amid the pink and the optimism is sobering.

    "What the statistics tell us is that one in 9 women will develop breast cancer," explained Dr. Eric Reitz, a surgeon.

    Advances to keep names off the tree have been made with improved detection.

    Reducing the number of memorial cards, doctors say, will likely come from new and improved breast cancer treatments and therapies.


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