The word "Cancer" can bring dread and despair to one's heart. But thanks to the new Pocono Medical Center's Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center of East Stroudsburg, cures and care is now available close to your backyard.

The official opening of the brand new $39 million 59,000-square-foot building was held Thursday, June 21 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, right across the street from the Pocono Medical Center at 206 East Brown Street. The two buildings are connected by a glass-enclosed bridge.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot presented the colors and the national anthem was sung by Caroline Martin, Sherrif Todd Martin's daughter.

Kathleen E. Kuck, president and CEO of Pocono Health System/Pocono Medical Center welcomed a large audience gathered under the portico of the new center

"I'm honored you came out in the 95 degree weather," she said.

She introduced the center's medical director, Dr. Michael Greenberg and executive director, Stacy Goetz.

"This is truly a historical moment for us. In 2010 we broke ground and 20 months later, and ahead of schedule, we present this magnificent building," said Kuck.

She said that the new center will provide an environment that respects with dignity those who have cancer.

"The center is built on a strong foundation, with the capabilities of supporting six more floors if needed, but the strongest foundation comes from the people who helped make the center a reality and those it serves.

"They were here before construction and long after. We have an amazing staff, an extraordinary team of physicians second to none. The leadership team makes sure all receive world class care," said Kuck.

She announced that the center recently was awarded accreditation with accommodation, "an Outstanding Achiever Award. There are 106 cancer centers across the nation so I'm very proud to give this award to Dr. Greenberg."

The three-year accreditation was awarded from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. The Outstanding Achiever Award is the highest rating it can give.

Anthony Worthington, vice chairman of PMC's board of directors said that they were excited to present the new center to the community.

William B. Cramer, Esq., chairman of the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center's capital campaign said "So many of you cared, to give hope. Thank you. And thank you for witnessing a defining moment in PMC history."

Ms. Kuck then presented the first Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center Liztech pin to Pat Hughes, wife of Kevin Hughes, the son of Dale and Frances Hughes. Pat and Kevin were the first to make a contribution to the new center and have been strong supporters.

The Rev. Dr. Sherrie L. Sneed, PMC's director of pastoral care, gave an invocation, in which she said, "Although we have been brought to this time from many places and many experiences, our journey has brought us to this time and this place, rooted in one purpose, to provide a center of healing where all may come to find health, wholeness and replenishment, of body, mind, heart and soul."

Kuck brought everyone's attention to a large silver container, explaining that it was a time capsule and that they asked cancer patients who have inspired them to fill it with letters or items that explained what having cancer brought into their lives.

"You are what keeps us going, reminding us of what's important in life," she said.

Representing all those who have been helped by the center were: Kelli Mercurio, Stroudsburg; Maryanne Ilch, Stroudsburg; David Tipka, Stroudsburg; Byron Weaver, STroudsburg; Marge Garrison, Stroudsburg; Audra Novoa, Bushkill; Robert Larsen, Pocono Manor; Jonathan Warner, Stroudsburg; Bill Howells, Bartonsville; Tammy Guarde, East Stroudsburg; Sheriff Todd Martin, Stroudsburg.

Kelli Mercurio placed a small length of cord in it and explained that it was made up of three strands, which represented her father, her mother and herself, all diagnosed with cancer. Her father passed away, and her mother just died last week.

She quoted Ecclesiastes 4:11 "'Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?' The cord represents our community and two strands are better than one."

Byron Weaver, Stroudsburg, a cancer survivor four times over, submitted a cross. "If not for the doctors and nurses here, I wouldn't be here. I thought of a cross because of God providing the doctors and nurses, for the top notch care in the area. I'm very grateful."

Marge Garrison of Stroudsburg and a Pleasant Valley Elementary teacher, spent her summer last year fighting cancer. She said that "Life is a gift," and she submitted a photo in a silver frame of her doctors and nurses and herself.

Audra Novoa of Bushkill said her grandmother had cancer 14 years ago and had to travel three hours one way to receive treatment, day after day. Today, because of the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center, that's no longer the case for this community.

"Before she died, my grandmother gave me her guardian angel pin. I'm putting that in the capsule along with a picture of my family, so everyone has a guardian angel and a family while here."

Sheriff Todd Martin put in the capsule a t-shirt and a red band.

"Welcome to the best care you can get in your own backyard. When I first got sick, my daughter Carly started a red band campaign to raise money for cancer research. They raised $10,000 and donated it to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Rose Schoch started a drive for me and then I wanted something to thank the whole community for coming together. My oldest daughter designed this teeshirt with a motto 'Working Together to Make A Difference.' Now my youngest daughter has started up the red band campaign again. It's family. We're all family. I'd like you to think about this when you leave today ... Choose to inspire to inspire before you expire."

Bob Phillips, president of the Chamber of Commerce asked Sherrif Martin and Kelli Mercurio to cut the ribbon.

The ceremony ended with Robin Smith singing "Celebrating the Light."

Everyone was invited to partake of refreshments inside the new center where the lives of tomorrow's cancer patients and their families will be significantly impacted in a positive way.

Contributions can be made to the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center, in care of Pocono Health Foundation, 175 E. Brown St., Suite 113, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301.