It is a truism that cancer treatment and cancer research are the ultimate team sports. At the center of every cancer treatment team is the patient, surrounded by the members of the medical team that are needed to optimize the care of that individual patient. And at the center of every cancer research team is the promise of a great idea or critical question whose answer will help us to reduce the burden of cancer.
Because we in the cancer community are so focused on the value of the team to achieve our goals, we are especially grateful to the many other teams who share our passion. All of those teams have come out in force to support our efforts over the last few weeks.
In the midst of their march toward a playoff appearance, the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted a game for Stand up to Cancer, honoring all those who are joined in the fight against cancer and providing concrete support for several Dream Teams, including one against melanoma with Pitt's Dr. John Kirkwood. The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their October tradition of partnering with us in the fight against breast cancer. Players from the Steelers hosted an event on healthy cooking with breast cancer survivors at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and then “painted the stadium pink” for the Steelers-Ravens game on Oct. 20. Breast cancer specialists Drs. Adam Brufsky and Kandace McGuire participated in the mid-field pre-game ceremony and breast cancer survivors cheered as the Steelers came on field for what turned out to be a major Steelers win. Not to be outdone, our Pittsburgh Penguins also supported us by hosting Hockey Fights Cancer on Oct. 28, auctioning off special practice jerseys to benefit cancer charity and hosting hematological malignancy specialist Dr. Allison Seghal for a radio interview during the intermission.
Our college teams have also stepped up. Pitt football came together to recognize breast cancer awareness at their game on Oct. 19, with medical oncologist Dr. Barry Lembersky providing the color commentary about breast cancer in a radio interview. Our local college and university coaches gathered for Coaches vs. Cancer on Oct. 2 at the annual Tip-Off Madness event hosted by the men's and women's head basketball coaches from the University of Pittsburgh (Jamie Dixon and Suzie McConnell-Serio), Robert Morris University (Andrew Toole and Sal Buscaglia) and Duquesne University (Jim Ferry and Dan Burt). More than 500 people attended the Coaches vs. Cancer event, which is part of a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers coaches, their teams and communities to join the fight against cancer.
But the best demonstration of the power of the team came at the Hillman Cancer Center gala on Oct. 24. About 900 supporters of our cancer mission gathered at the Consol Energy Center to celebrate our accomplishments and recommit to our goal to reduce the burden of cancer. A highlight of the evening was a live performance of original compositions performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, another powerful example of the importance of teamwork. But the climax of the evening was the surprise presentation of a very special University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's recognition award to Elsie and Henry Hillman. No two people know more about the value of team work than Elsie and Henry whose work has been transformational in advancing our goal to enable our patients to “Live courageously,” the theme for the evening. We cannot thank them–or indeed all of our other supporters-enough for sharing our team's passion for our work toward a world without cancer.