HACKENSACK, N.J., Oct. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC) celebrated with nearly 4,000 cancer survivors, patients, families and supporters at the Eighth Annual Celebrating Life and Liberty Event on Sunday, October 9. This year marks the first time the event was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. Although it rained throughout the day, the celebration was moved indoors and provided patients and families with an opportunity to come together and celebrate their lives and journeys, and offer one another hope and support. The highly-anticipated concert with the Midtown Men was moved inside the stadium as the record-crowd enjoyed lunch and other fun activities.
"Celebrating Life and Liberty just grows bigger and better each and every year, and it was great to spend it for the first time at MetLife Stadium," said Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. "I want to thank our great team at JTCC – our world class doctors, nurses and support team. Even the rain couldn't keep our patients and their families away."
"This event truly shows the close-knit atmosphere of our cancer community at JTCC," said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president, HackensackUMC. "We have been fortunate to host this event in iconic locations, such as Liberty Island, Liberty State Park, and now the famous MetLife Stadium. And no matter how large the venue or crowd, it always feels like family."
"Celebrating Life and Liberty is a testament to the strong community of cancer patients who fight so courageously each and every day. They each deserve to celebrate their life and their unique journey," said André Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director, and chief of Lymphoma, John Theurer Cancer Center; chief science officer and director of Research and Innovation, Regional Cancer Care Associates. "I am so inspired by our patients, and their will and determination is what makes it so rewarding to work at one of the top cancer programs in the United States."
To both honor, celebrate and support patients with cancer, Dr. Goy created the Celebrating Life and Liberty event, a day that gives patients and families an opportunity to come together, celebrate their journeys, and offer one another hope and support. The idea for the program was formed 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 and Liberty event was held on Ellis Island in 2009 and about 700 people attended.
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.
The event was highlighted with a performance by the Midtown Men, four stars of the original cast of Broadway's Jersey Boys. The group wowed the crowd with hits from the Broadway musical and other Motown classics. Christian Hoff, a member of Midtown Men, recounted his own experience with cancer. His wife, mom and 5-year-old daughter have all had cancer.
The complimentary event featured several family-oriented activities and featured remarks by Dr. Goy; Mr. Garrett; Dr. Sawczuk; Richard W. Henning; chairman, Hackensack University Medical Center Board of Governors; and Sharon Lee Parker, director of Patient Advocacy, John Theurer Cancer Center.
Various cancer advocacy organizations were available with information about their services for all aspects of cancer care, support and survivorship including: American Cancer Society; Komen North Jersey; Kula for Karma; Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; Lungevity; Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation; National Ovarian Cancer Coalition; Project Purple; Tennis for Life; Lymphoma Research Foundation; US Too; Living With Cancer; Laughter Yoga; and AliveAndKickn.
The Prevent Cancer Super Colon, a 30-foot giant inflatable colon that helps raise awareness about colorectal cancer, which is the third most diagnosed cancer in the United States, was also on display.
Raffle prizes were given away at the end of the event which included a Beyond Spa gift certificate, NFL football signed by Shawn O'Hara, a helicopter ride around New York City, restaurant gift certificates, and tickets to the HackensackUMC Foundation Gala.
Photo Caption: Top: The John Theurer Cancer Center at HackensackUMC celebrated with nearly 4,000 cancer survivors, patients, families and supporters at the Eighth Annual Celebrating Life and Liberty Event on Sunday, October 9, at MetLife Stadium. The crowd gathers on the 50-yard line for the event's highest attendance to date.
Below: The crowd gets ready for the Midtown Men to perform. The concert and festivities were moved inside at MetLife Stadium due to the rain.
About Hackensack University Medical Center HackensackUMC, a 775-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county's first hospital, it is a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report's 2016-17 Best Hospital rankings - maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 24 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women's and Children's Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women's Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide's list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.