On Saturday, Oct. 21, more than 500 survivors, patients, family members and friends affected by cancer walked in the 24th Annual Team Spirit Long Beach Cancer 5K raising more than $193,000 for support programs offered at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. Dressed in bright colors and custom team t-shirts, participants walked the 3.1-mile scenic walk along the Long Beach shoreline.
“Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a difficult moment to navigate and creates a sense of helplessness on what may come,” said Flory Aguilar, M.D., breast cancer survivor, MemorialCare Breast Center. “But at MemorialCare you have an unwavering sense of support and access to important psychosocial resources while receiving treatment. Not only did everyone at MemorialCare help to treat my cancer, but they took the time to take care of me and my mental and emotional well-being by connecting me to the Women Guiding Women Program and Beat the Odds. My journey would have been a lot harder without access to these resources that we are raising funds for here today.”
These support programs are designed to teach patients and their families’ skills to cope with a cancer diagnosis. Programs like Beat the Odds offer research-based strategies for improving quality of life, managing symptoms and side effects and positively impacting survival after a cancer diagnosis; and Women Guiding Women: Cancer Support & Education, a peer mentor program for women who are newly diagnosed with breast or gynecologic cancers are guided through their journey from diagnosis to treatment, surgery, and onto recovery by a cancer survivor.
Additional programs include support groups, nurse navigators, social workers, a mind-body oncology coach and yoga.
Team Spirit Long Beach not only serves as a fundraising event, but as a time to honor and celebrate those who have been affected by cancer.
“At MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, we believe that cancer is not just a physical journey, but a journey of the mind and spirit,” says Mariusz Wirga, M.D., medical director, psychosocial oncology, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute. “It is for this reason; psychosocial support is at the core of our approach to care. Our support programs are vital to helping our patients navigate their journey with cancer. Our community’s efforts through Team Spirit Long Beach will help us continue to offer those programs and continue to strengthen them as our patient population grows.”
While the 5K is over, fundraising for Team Spirit Long Beach will continue to the end of October.