Team Spirit Long Beach Cancer 5k Celebrates 25th Anniversary

For more than two decades, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute and the surrounding community have raised more than $1 million to support cancer patients and their families.

The annual Team Spirit Long Beach Cancer 5K is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 26 by taking over the coast of Long Beach and building on the over $1 million they have raised since the first walk. For thousands of people throughout Long Beach and the surrounding communities this annual event has brought additional psychosocial programs and support for those with cancer.

“Historically at Long Beach Medical Center, like many cancer treatment centers, we’ve heavily focused on the most advanced technology and pharmacology to address the physical aspects of returning people to health. However, the mental, emotional, and spiritual spheres of cancer treatment and recovery should also be addressed in a comprehensive way as they determine the experience of cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as their outcomes,” says Mariusz Wirga, M.D., medical director, psychosocial oncology, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “Unfortunately, despite their necessity, many supportive programs aimed at these spheres are not covered by insurance. Thanks to the support of our community and their dedication to the cause, we are able to provide these cancer support programs at the highest level in Southern California to all cancer patients and their families, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Since 1999, Team Spirit 5k has put its fundraising dollars to work, expanding access to psychosocial programs each year. Since its inception, Long Beach Medical Center has been able to provide the Women Guiding Women: Cancer Support and Education Program, where newly diagnosed patients are connected to a mentor who has had a similar experience and can lend support and friendship. In addition, a nurse navigator and oncology life coach have been added to the program to ensure that patients are supported along their cancer journey.

In addition, improved mental health has been tied to exercise and connectedness and has proven that a person’s mental stability and health are just as important as their physical health in recovering from cancer. Long Beach Medical Center has added Beat the Odds support groups, Yoga/Pilates for Survivors, weekly walking groups, and creative expression workshops.

Most recently, the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center launched an Adolescent Young Adult Survivorship Clinic in partnership with Jonathan Jaques Cancer Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. All these cancer support services are available regardless of financial status or diagnosis.

“At the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, we understand that cancer affects more than just the body; it affects the mind, body, and spirit,” said Dr. Wirga. “That is why treatment shouldn’t be relegated to only physical treatment but complemented by emotional and supportive services. With that understanding, it is critical for all patients that we continue to grow these programs and implement new ones that will help the well-being of those battling cancer.”

Team Spirit will be open for early bird registration from June 15 - July 26 for only $35. After September, registration goes up to $55. For more info about the walk, please visit: