The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 22, 2013

Blooming recovery: Cancer survivor welcomed back with 290 daffodils

Ruth Rice

JOHNSTOWN — Snow may be on the ground outside, but the inside of an office at Pitt-Johnstown in Richland Township blooms with spring.

Eunice Yang, an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering technology department at the university, is surrounded by 290 daffodils.

“They’re all opened up and looking at me,” Yang said from amid the profusion of bright blooms. “My whole office is yellow. It never looked any prettier.”

The daffodils were a huge surprise to Yang, a breast cancer survivor who completed successful treatment in February 2012.

The flower delivery, which included a huge card signed by faculty and students, was engineered by the Pitt-

Johnstown chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

“Pitt-Johnstown is not like a big campus,” Yang explained. “There’s a good rapport between professors and students. We do care about each other, and this exemplifies that. This was their way of showing it. It was a kind act. They’re happy to see me, and the feeling is reciprocal. I was on medical leave for a year.”

Yang was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2011 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments from June 2011 to February 2012.  

Coincidence or not, she said her total treatment time was very close to 290 days.

On Thursdays, Yang typically teaches lab in the basement of the engineering and science building and runs up and down the stairs to her office on the main floor because there is no Internet access downstairs.

“I stayed downstairs from 9 to 12 and came up to my office to do some advising from 12 to 1,” Yang said. “There were seven or eight people, faculty and students, in the hallway to my office talking all at once and wanting to talk to me. I didn’t want to open the door to my office because there wasn’t enough room for them.”

Yang needed to begin her advising, so she opened her office door without looking inside, hoping that would disperse the small crowd.

“I was facing them, and they still continued to talk, then their eyes got big,” Yang said. “I turned toward my office and saw a sea of yellow. There were daffodils on my desk, my shelves and my file cabinets. There are 15 vases. They are congratulations on winning the battle.”

Yang has written a thank you to those who had any part in delivering her spring bouquet and card.

Her message in part reads:

“I want to let you know that every blessing that I receive, such as the thought and care that come from you, makes me feel less and less sad. In many ways, it is very healing. Thank you so much for this.

“During those days, I was scared. I didn’t know why I got cancer and why all this was happening to me, but I trusted God. I gave him full control. Through my journey, God comforted me and also blessed me with so many wonderful people.

“The past two years have truly been a battle, but I feel like a winner because life is sweeter for me now.

“Through my cancer journey, I also have come to realize how special everyone is that I meet. That includes each and every one of you. I hope that the smile you see on my face or the laughter you and I may share shows you that.”

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