On Saturday, Oct. 1, for the first time since the pandemic more than 600 survivors, patients, family members and friends affected by cancer walked in the 23rd Annual Team Spirit Long Beach Cancer 5K to raise funds 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.
“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’s 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.”
Many of the support programs offered at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute 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, yoga, and more.
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. One of those personally touched by cancer was Cynthia Howard, a cancer survivor and 2022 Team Spirit Long Beach participant, who shared her experience with the crowd.
“I knew the moment my care team put their hand on my back and said, ‘We got you’ that I would be ok,” said Cynthia. “Throughout my entire experience everyone at the MemorialCare Breast Center provided such amazing support that it made my breast cancer journey easier.”
While the 5K is over, fundraising for Team Spirit Long Beach will continue to the end of October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To donate, visit MemorialCare.org/TeamSpirit.