Cancer Patients at St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals Win Bahamas Cruise and Atlantic City Getaways in Latest Giveaway From Laura's Journeys

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Program encourages and facilitates therapeutic recreational travel for cancer patients

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“I’ve never won anything before and this trip could not have come at a better time for me, having recently completed my chemotherapy and radiation."

A Bahamas cruise and two-night trips to Atlantic City and the Berkshires were among the latest vacation prizes awarded by Laura’s Journeys (, a support program for cancer patients at Continuum Cancer Centers of New York at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in Manhattan. The program, which is now affiliated with the Helen Sawaya Fund at Roosevelt Hospital (, is designed to encourage and facilitate recreational travel for the patient along with their spouse/partner or other family members/friends.

The winners’ names were drawn from approximately 100 entrants, all currently undergoing treatment for cancer, during a raffle last month in the hospital’s infusion suite.    

The grand prize winner, Sally Thomas, a professor for over 50 years at The Julliard School, received a seven-night cruise from New York to Florida and the Bahamas on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Ms. Thomas, who will travel with her cousin later this winter, commented, “I’ve never won anything before and this trip could not have come at a better time for me, having recently completed my chemotherapy and radiation. I’m very much looking forward to getting away and relaxing.”

The second prize winner, a Brooklyn resident who requested privacy, traveled with his wife to Caesars Atlantic City Casino Hotel in early January for a two-night stay. The third prize winner, Bronx resident Cheryl Horne, won a two-night stay to either Atlantic City or a bed & breakfast in Lenox, Mass. Ms. Horne will travel with her husband in the coming weeks.

Laura’s Journeys was created by Aberdeen, N.J. resident Bill Parness in memory of his wife Laura, who passed away in November 2008 at the age of 54 after a courageous battle with breast cancer. He developed the program based on the therapeutic benefits he and Laura derived from their extensive travels during the six years she was being treated for advanced breast cancer. “The rewards Laura and I received from traveling during those years are just too numerous to mention,” said Mr. Parness. “In addition to the sheer pleasure of traveling, Laura always came home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle her next treatments. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the support of the Helen Sawaya Fund, we have been able to help other cancer patients reap the many rewards of travel.”

Since the program’s inception in fall 2009, Laura’s Journeys has now awarded over 30 vacations and weekend getaways, including 14 in 2012, to chemotherapy and radiation therapy patients. Recipients have enjoyed one-week cruises to various parts of the Caribbean, Bahamas and New England/Canada; a one-week trip to Athens, Greece; one-week stays at timeshare resorts or vacation homes in Merritt Island and Palm Beach Shores, Fla., and Galloway Township, N.J.; and two-night getaways to Atlantic City and the Berkshire Mountains.

Laura Parness was a patient of Gabriel A. Sara, M.D., Medical Director of the Chemotherapy Infusion Suite and Executive Director of the Patient Services Initiative at Continuum Cancer Centers of New York, located at Roosevelt Hospital. Dr. Sara is a strong advocate for therapeutic travel for his patients.

“Over my many years of practice, I have come to believe that there are therapeutic benefits to traveling while undergoing treatment for cancer,” said Dr. Sara, co-founder and director of the Helen Sawaya Fund. “No matter what the duration, planning a trip gives patients something to look forward to and provides a vitally important psychological lift from grappling with the day-to-day issues associated with cancer. I especially enjoy hearing stories of my patients’ trips, seeing their photos and, more than anything, seeing their smiling faces as they felt revitalized and happy. After their trip they continue to remember the beautiful moments they had and know that they can do it again.”

In addition to trip giveaways, “Laura’s Journeys” offers tips for traveling while undergoing treatment for cancer.

For travel tips or to donate, please visit

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Bill Parness
Parness & Associates SBE
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