The Rural Conference for Cancer Survivors began in 2011 at St. Francis University, DiSepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness. It has alternated locations between the St. Francis campus and the Pitt-Johnstown campus. It is normally scheduled for the first Saturday in May and is held in the morning from 8:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

It is tentatively scheduled for May 2018 to be held at the Living and Learning Conference Center on the campus of Pitt-Johnstown.

This special event is open to survivors, their families, and everyone who supports them. Information and materials are provided from many participating organizations, both locally and nationally, and programs, support, and treatment dedicated to helping survivors and their families.

The event is free to all attendees and lunch will be provided.

There are feature panel discussions and guest speakers.

A few of the speakers from past events include:

  • Darcel Fahy, a native of Somerset County who was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2010 at the age of 25.
  • Janet McKee, HHC, AADP, a board certified Holistic Health Counselor, who spoke about the healing power of good nutrition.
  • Jack Schocker, MD, a board-certified radiation oncologist and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Altoona Regional Health System’s Center for Cancer Care in Altoona, PA. Dr. Schocker discussed the follow-up care patients who were treated for or cured of cancer should receive.
  • Keith Rothfus, cancer survivor and U.S. Representative
  • Cathy Griffith, Griffith Family Foundation

The Griffith Family Foundation was founded by Cathy Griffith and her sons in honor of their father Greg Griffith, who lost a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer in 2011. Donations to the Foundation support research to find a cure for this terrible and deadly disease. The Foundation seeks to provide medical, psychological, holistic, and spiritual support to those suffering from the disease, as well providing solace and fellowship for families and friends. The Griffith Family Foundation’s signature initiative is Sideline Cancer®, which was started in 2012 by a motivated group of students to help advance pancreatic cancer research.

  • Doreen Perks, Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund

Ms. Perks lost her husband to cancer and started Fund to help ease the financial burden of individuals and families in the local community who are battling cancer by providing funding for basic necessities so their focus is on treatment and recovery. Since its inception in 2006, the Fund has raised and allocated over $1,000,000 to local cancer patients facing financial hardship in Blair, Centre, Clearfield and Huntingdon Counties. The Fund helps provide short-term financial assistance to cancer patients who are unable to pay for basic necessities such as rent, utilities, and food while they are undergoing cancer treatments.

  • Dr. Laura Olienyk, James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center

Chief of Pharmacy at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona. Her presentation was on the pharmaceutical advances to treatment of cancer.

  • Brother Shamus McGrenra, T.O.R.

Saint Francis University, Director of International Admissions. This Franciscan friar, who is a cancer survivor, is as much known for his smiling, positive attitude as he is for his annual bicycle ride to benefit the campus’ Dorothy Day Center, an outreach provider to the region. Brother Shamus wants cancer patients to know there is always hope.

  • Tim Rigby, WJAC and honorary chairman for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk

Well-known as a local favorite TV news anchor and sports director for WJAC.  Tim is active in the community and serves as the honorary chairman for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. He is also a board member for the Laurel Highlands Fellowship of Christian Athletes and United Methodist Human Services. He’s a Pitt-Johnstown and Ferndale Area graduate. He often presents the welcoming address. He has shared his experiences in dealing with anaplastic lymphoma.

  • Dr. Paula Scaramozzino – Chairperson, Medical Imaging and Radiation Science Program, Mount Aloysius College

Has worked in the imaging field since 1983, and is certified in radiography and magnetic resonance imaging. She has been a faculty member at Mount Aloysius College since 1998, and is currently the Chair of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences. She has an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, and is an active member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and the Pennsylvania Society of Radiologic Technologists.

  • Michael Craig, Assistant Football Coach, Saint Francis University

Mr. Craig, a 2006 graduate of Saint Francis University, is a Hodgkin Lymphoma survivor. After being diagnosed in 1997, Michael played four years of Division I football at Saint Francis University, and for three of those years he was elected as a captain. He was the recipient of the Highmark BCBS Courage to Come Back Award, and the American Cancer Society Courage Award. Now a coach for SFU, Michael proudest accomplishment is the money raised for the Make-a-Wish Foundation totaling more than $20,000 and still climbing.