On Friday, September 14, Hackensack Meridian Health John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, one of the nation’s top 50 hospitals for cancer, hosted its tenth annual Celebrating Life and Liberty event at MetLife Stadium. The event celebrates survivorship and generates inspiration and support to those in the cancer community who are still in treatment or recovery.
I’m proud that we have been able to set aside one day each year for the last decade, to bring our patients, their families and caregivers and our team together to celebrate,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, Co-CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “We are honored that you believe in us, and we will never lose sight of our top priority – our patients.”
“Cancer patients and survivors draw a collective strength, hope and inspiration from each other. Today is a day to celebrate those shared journeys,” said Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director, Lymphoma Division chief, professor of medicine, Georgetown University. “All of us – caregivers, nurses, physicians, loved ones – draw on your optimism and commitment to embrace the best in life, and that spirit is what defines this Celebrating Life & Liberty event.”
To both honor, and celebrate patients with cancer, Dr. Goy created the Celebrating Life & Liberty event, a day that gives patients and families an opportunity to come together and celebrate their journeys, and offer one another hope and support. The idea for the program he started came while treating a patient who worked as a curator at the Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United States from Dr. Goy’s native France. The idea of liberty resonated, because of his belief that patients should be liberated from cancer. Having heard the rich history of Ellis Island, and its symbolic importance of rebirth to millions of new Americans, Dr. Goy convinced the National Park Service to contribute the park for the event. The first Celebrating Life & Liberty event was held on Ellis Island in 2009 and about 700 people attended.
The crowds have continued to grow in force, diversity and determination to 5,000 people. The growth in attendance each year is a powerful testimony to the important meaning the event has to patients and caregivers. It is also an illustration of the continued progress against cancer. Over the years, in addition to survivors sharing their stories in song, poetry, prose and performance, professional artists have energized and coalesced the diverse crowds with stories of hope and survival. The event brings together people of all walks of life, where cancer knows no race or religion, and everyone is an equal opportunity victim and survivor.
The agenda for the event featured a wide-range of activities for adults and children including musical performances by Bruce Springsteen tribute band, Tramps Like Us and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players as well as interactive workshops, arts & crafts, face painters, caricaturists, magicians, lawn games, interactive workshops, and dinner. Cancer advocacy organizations provided information about their services for all aspects of cancer care, support and survivorship.
Visit John Theurer Cancer Center’s Facebook page, view photos from Celebrating Life & Liberty and stay connected with the community.
For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org.