Last Thursday (11/03/2022), I got to take part in the Chicago Blackhawks’ Hockey Fights Cancer celebration at the United Center and walk the purple carpet.
The National Hockey League (NHL) commemorates Hockey Fights Cancer month every November, which celebrates survivors and thrivers and honors those who have passed away from cancer (all types).
This was my second year walking the purple carpet, but my first as a breast cancer survivor.
When I walked last year, I was in the midst of treatment. It was late November 2021, and I had just finished radiation, which was the fourth step in my five-step treatment plan: IVF + oocyte retrieval, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and immunotherapy. While I had already been declared no evidence of disease (NED) after my surgical pathology report came back in September of 2021, it was weird for me to call myself a “survivor” while I was still in active treatment. So this year I was able to call myself a survivor and actually feel like one six months out of active treatment.
While lining up to walk the carpet, I met a few other wonderful women who have also either battled or are going through treatment for breast cancer currently, and we got to exchange numbers and connect with each other. There were all types of cancer patients in line: children and teens, adult women and men, and so many types of cancer were represented. Even so, I was the only 20-something in the line. Everyone was either a child, teen, or 40+ years old (as cancer patients tend to be).
Although being the only person your age can feel isolating, I was happy that the Blackhawks shared my story with the attendees. I wrote this in my intro paragraph (that they read aloud as I walked the carpet):
Rebecca was diagnosed with HER-2 positive, Stage 2B breast cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) in March of 2021, 10 days after turning 27 years old. She endured 13 months of intensive treatment, including IVF and egg retrieval surgery, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy surgery, 33 rounds of radiation, and 11 targeted therapy HER2+ infusions. She finished all treatment in April of 2022 and has been declared no evidence of disease (NED) since undergoing a successful treatment plan with a positive response to chemo and surgery.
Rebecca runs a website, CandidlyCancer.com, which aims to help newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients and educate people about women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 30. She also works as a mentor to newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients with Imerman Angels and is the volunteer events coordinator for the Young Survival Coalition of Chicago.
While having cancer isn’t a club anyone wants to be a part of, there are truly some incredible people you’ll encounter along the way who understand what you’ve gone through in a way nobody else truly can. I’m so blessed to have had this opportunity and so grateful to my favorite team for the best sport in the world for sharing my story and the stories of so many others affected by cancer.
Thank you again to the Blackhawks, the NHL, and for my forever supporters, Cindy (my mom) and Alen (my bf) for coming out to celebrate with me and see the Hawks win a hell of a game!
Here are a few snapshots of the evening: