Photo Information

Dr. David Dozier, a communications professor with San Diego State University, answers questions during “When Cancer Calls” at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 17, 2016. The seminar was open to all Marines, Sailors and family members who have been affected by cancer and featured a film detailing one family’s struggle with cancer and how they dealt with its emotional impact. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Robert Bliss)

Photo by Pfc. Robert Bliss

When cancer calls

18 Nov 2016 | Pfc. Robert Bliss I Marine Expeditionary Force

 Marines and Sailors may face a variety of ailments during their careers: post-traumatic stress, sprains, stress-fractures, and broken bones; but one of the most devastating conditions is cancer. Cancer is a debilitating and life-threatening disease that not only affects the patient but also emotionally impacts the family and friends of the individual.


While cancer is difficult to deal with, it is not impossible to cope with. People like Drs. Wayne A. Beach and David Dozier of San Diego State University take this to heart. Beach and Dozier have developed a seminar that helps people, including Marines and Sailors of I Marine Expeditionary Force, broach the subject of how to cope with a loved one going through cancer.

The seminar was held at the Blinder Chapel, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Nov. 17, 2016. It was open to all Camp Pendleton Marines, Sailors and their families.


“Our goal with this project is to figure out how to help people, both family members and patients, struggling with cancer,” said Dozier. “The Marine Corps is special to us because we teach here in San Diego with a large population of Marines and their families. We feel these seminars are an opportunity to work closely with Marines and develop certain services for them that they couldn’t find elsewhere.”

Dozier and Beach’s seminar focuses on a film that was written by Beach involving real-life dialogue between a family whose mother was diagnosed with cancer and the resulting emotional journey the family faces.


“Most families have a hard time talking about issues concerning a family member dealing with cancer,” said Beach. “This film helps them to understand that they’re not alone.”

Following the presentation of the film, the seminar features a question and answer period during which attendees can ask questions related to the film or various topics concerning cancer. They also have time  share their own journeys of dealing with cancer.


“We find talking about the subject openly really helps people deal with these issues,” explained Dozier. “That’s what a lot of this is about, getting people to open up and support each other.”

While there is still no cure for cancer, individuals like Beach and Dozier have spent more than a decade helping families, military and civilian alike, to deal with these issues and to openly support one another when dealing with cancer and the emotional damage it can cause.


“I feel like this is a real step forward in helping families cope with such a serious illness and the effect it can have on all parties involved,” said Dozier. “We plan to continue our work and are ever hopeful for the future.”

Marines and Sailors are supportive of one another, but supporting people through cancer can be uncharted territory. Seminars like the “When Cancer Calls” workshop are one more way that Marines can help each other and their families. Cancer is still an incurable disease, but just like on the battlefield, Marines and Sailors are there to help and support one another through difficult times.

More Media