October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point in their lives, and early detection remains the most important means of slowing or stopping its impact.

At a recent Washington Spirit game, there was a wonderful demonstration of how cancer can be beat back through early detection and great medical care. The Washington Spirit is a professional soccer club based in Germantown that participates in the National Women’s Soccer League. At the Sept. 28 Washington Spirit game, more than 20 cancer survivors participated in a “Survivor Celebration” and walked the players from both teams onto the field before the game. Watching from the stands were staff from the Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Breast Center.

It was a thrill to see 20 of our patients, each of whom represent a personal and powerful story of surviving cancer, actively and joyfully coming out onto the field alongside the Spirit athletes. At halftime, our cancer heroes took a victory lap as the fans in the stands cheered them on!  Soon the fence was lined with kids who came down to give high fives and fist bumps to the survivors as they passed by.

It was an emotional moment for both our patients and their care teams—many of whom attended the event. It was a celebration that Dr. Nancy Markus, Dr. Cynthia Plate, Dr. Surupa Sen Gupta, Dr. Sonya Kella, and Dr. Zahide Erkmen were proud to participate in and will never forget.  There were more smiles than tears in the Soccerplex that night—and the Spirit won their game!

We received a wonderful note from one of the patients that I want to share with you: “Thank you to everyone who worked so hard on the 2019 Survivor Celebration.  It was a perfect, joyful, night of victory for the Washington Spirit (2-1) and for the survivors.  We laughed, bonded with each other and compared our healing journey with one another. The crowd applause from 5,200+ attendees will always echo in my heart. Thank you.  The planning of this meaningful event, concern of the staff for all of us, ability to wrangle soccer players & survivors to form two lines, and communicating to us was so appreciated. My gratitude to the staff, those who have survived, and in memory of those who fought until the end – Job Well Done.”

I want to thank the Breast Center staff and physicians for being a part of this celebration, as well as Lori Hartinger, director of Breast Imaging and Patient Access, for her excellent help in pulling the evening together. Tom Grant and the Public Relations and Marketing team worked closely with the Washington Spirit organization to create a truly inspiring event.

One more thing. I know that this column is read each week by many incredible women who are involved in providing care for our patients—or who work in one of the support services that help Adventist HealthCare deliver great care. You help us every day to fulfill our mission of extending God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. This story honors our cancer heroes, but it is also a way for me to reaffirm that our mission of care includes your health and your future. Your health is important to us. You help us take such good care of others. This is a reminder to also take good care of yourself. Especially during this Breast Cancer Awareness month.