Cancer Survivors Celebrate Life and Liberty at 10th Annual ‘Celebrating Life and Liberty’ Event at MetLife Stadium

Five thousand patients, survivors and their families joined health care team in a day of fun and entertainment at MetLife Stadium sponsored by John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.

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.

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John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, and preventive care as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancers. The 14 specialized divisions covering the complete spectrum of cancer care have developed a close-knit team of medical, research, nursing, and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to the John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. Housed within a 775-bed not-for-profit teaching, tertiary care, and research hospital, the John Theurer Cancer Center provides state-of-the-art technological advances, compassionate care, research innovations, medical expertise, and a full range of aftercare services that distinguish the John Theurer Cancer Center from other facilities.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 16 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 450 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has 33,000 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” The network was also named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2018” list.

Hackensack Meridian Health partnered with Seton Hall University to launch the first private medical school in New Jersey – Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University – in more than 50 years to address a growing shortage of physicians and dramatic changes in health care delivery. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it. Hackensack Meridian Health and Carrier Clinic, New Jersey’s oldest and most respected behavioral health provider, signed a definitive agreement to merge.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

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