Hockey Fights Cancer

Hockey Fights Cancer: Walking the Purple Carpet ūüíú

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.

Rebecca Reynoso walks the Purple Carpet for the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Fights Cancer night

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:

  • Cindy and Alen look on at the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Fights Cancer Purple Carpet walk

Announcement: I’ve Joined Young Survival Coalition in a Volunteer Leadership Role

I’m excited to announce that as of September 1st, 2022, I’ve become Co-Coordinator for the Chicago outlet of the Young Survival Coalition!

For those of you who don’t know, Young Survival Coalition is an organization geared toward providing support and community for young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40.

As an individual who was diagnosed fewer than two weeks after I turned 27, this organization’s mission is incredibly important to me and aligns with why I created Candidly Cancer in the first place. The statistics behind breast cancer in women younger than 40 shows the need for a community like YSC.

Breast cancer in young women has historically been underrepresented in most discussions surrounding “who” gets breast cancer. While cancer at any age takes a toll on the bodies and minds of the people affected, young women face higher chances of being diagnosed with more aggressive cancers, receiving less funding and research toward how young adults are affected by breast cancer, greater financial and relationship stability concerns, and longstanding issues with body image and mental health.

Since 1998, Young Survival Coalition has grown from a single group out of NYC to an international nonprofit with over 170 local Face 2 Face networking groups (one for which I am now a co-coordinator), an online community, and a conference specifically geared toward young women who have breast cancer.

As a Coordinator for the YSC Chicago F2F network, my responsibilities include planning events for our local chapter so other young women who are either going through treatment or have previously gone through treatment for breast cancer have opportunities to meet face-to-face, get to know each other, grow a community, and build friendships!

I’ve always had an affinity for event planning and coordination; now I get to do it for other young cancer survivors and thrivers. All this is to say: I am so thrilled to be the newest Face 2 Face Coordinator for the YSC Chicago F2F network, and I’m happy to be able to volunteer my time and event coordination leadership skills to such a wonderful organization.

Want to help YSC and young survivors or thrivers like me? Donate to YSC today.