NEWARK, NJ – “Seize the Moment” was the motto on July 8, at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s 16 annual Cancer Survivors Day Celebration of Life Luncheon. More than 400 cancer survivors and their family members from Newark, and the Essex County region attended the event.

Every June, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s (NBIMC) Frederick B. Cohen, MD at the Comprehensive Cancer & Blood Disorders Center, celebrates National Cancer Survivors Day by hosting the luncheon. This year’s luncheon had four main themes: to celebrate the survivor, to inspire the newly diagnosed, to support caregivers, and to educate and conduct outreach to the greater community.  

“The Survivor Luncheon is held to celebrate life and to give our patients an opportunity to spend time with their physicians and fellow patients, outside of the hospital environment,” said John A. Brennan, MD, MPH, president and chief executive officer of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of New Jersey and executive vice-president of Barnabas Health.  “The luncheon also gives us an opportunity to thank Cohen Center patients for entrusting their care and their health to us at The Beth.”

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Esther Kaufogiens, 89, a cancer survivor for the last 50 years, gave a speech at the celebration.  “Being a survivor means I raised my children and I enjoy every day to the fullest, never giving up.”  She said a positive attitude and continued support from her family and the great medical care she has received over the last 50 years are two of the primary reasons why she continues to live and enjoy life today. “I had confidence in my excellent surgeon who worked at Beth Israel Medical Center.  I received excellent and compassionate care, especially from Dr. Fred Cohen, who was the first physician to treat me 50 years ago, and today from Dr. Maya Shah.” Kaufogiens, a two-time cancer survivor and the mother of two, will turn 90 next month.

Immediately following Mrs. Kaufogiens presentation the lights in the ballroom were dimmed and the cancer survivors of one, to five, all the way up to 50 years gathered in the center of the ballroom where a candle was lit in celebration their lives.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is home to the first hospital based cancer center. Dr. Fred Cohen opened the center 50 years ago. Today, Dr. Cohen’s daughter, Dr. Alice J. Cohen directs the Cohen Cancer Center. 

“At the Cohen Center, our goal is early diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Alice J. Cohen at the event. “We see thousands of cancer patients every year, including 150 new breast and 150 new lung cancer cases every year. Our goal is to continue to provide outreach and education on breast health and overall healthy living and to reduce the incidence of cancer.” Dr. Cohen went on to thank Diann Boyd, Clinical Nurse Manager, and Aida Chiles, Luncheon Chairperson and Administrative Coordinator, for their work with clinical care and keeping survivors and their families engaged on the road to the best health possible. 

In her speech, Kaufogiens said, “The Cohen Cancer Center is a wonderful cancer center that continues to help many patients.” 

To learn more about Newark Beth Israel Medical Center visit us on line at For a referral to a pediatrician or pediatric specialist at Children's Hospital of New Jersey call 1-888-724-7123.