Newswise — Hackensack, NJ (September 14, 2017) – On Sunday, September 10, John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading hospitals for cancer, celebrated its largest and most successful Celebrating Life and Liberty event yet at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s really a unique opportunity to bring together our patients — to honor them and their loved ones for their successful journey,” said Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “More than 4,000 people come to celebrate their good health, strength and courage, and our entire health network applauds them and are inspired by their courage and outlook.”

Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director, and chief of Lymphoma, John Theurer Cancer Center and chief science officer and director of Research and Innovation of Regional Cancer Care Associates created the Celebrating Life and Liberty event in 2007, a day that gives patients and families an opportunity to come together and offer one another hope and support.

“When I started this event, I wanted to celebrate our patients’ journeys, in a day focused on them, their families, and caregivers. The success of this event has grown from a few hundred to over 4,000 participants — testimony to the energy and human impact of this event,” said Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., chairman and director, and chief of Lymphoma, John Theurer Cancer Center and chief science officer and director of Research and Innovation of Regional Cancer Care Associates.

Twenty-seven years ago, the John Theurer Cancer Center completed its first bone marrow transplant – a foundation for the next generation of pioneering discovery and innovation in cancer care. Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., president of Physician Enterprise and chief innovations officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, led the team that performed that first procedure in 1990. Since then, John Theurer Cancer Center has become New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive cancer programs, and one of the most prominent centers nationwide, with more than 1,200 team members collaborating in a highly subspecialized and multidisciplinary environment.

“Each year, our celebration grows is powerful testimony to the meaning the event has to patients and caregivers. It is also an illustration of the continued progress against cancer,” said Dr. Pecora. “Our patients are the reason our team works tirelessly to provide the most state-of-the-art care and treatment options, and our research team remains dedicated to being on the forefront of discovery.”

Over the years, in addition to survivors sharing their stories in song, poetry, prose and performance, professional artists have energized and coalesced the diverse crowds with stories of hope and survival. The event brings together people of all walks of life, where cancer knows no race or religion.

“Cancer patients and survivors draw a collective strength, hope and inspiration from each other. Today is a day to celebrate those shared journeys,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president of Hackensack University Medical Center. “All of us – physicians, caregivers, nurses, loved ones – draw on the optimism and commitment to embrace the best in life, and that spirit is what defines our Celebrating Life & Liberty event.”

Celebrating Life & Liberty included a performance by Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot, Celebrating the music of Billy Joel. The event was also marked by speeches as well as football themed activities, face painting, caricatures and inflatables. Additionally, more than 15 local and national cancer advocacy groups donated their time and resources to educate patients about networking, support and cutting-edge research.

John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, and preventive care as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancers. The 14 specialized divisions covering the complete spectrum of cancer care have developed a close-knit team of medical, research, nursing, and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. Housed within a 775-bed not-for-profit teaching, tertiary care, and research hospital, John Theurer Cancer Center provides state-of-the-art technological advances, compassionate care, research innovations, medical expertise, and a full range of aftercare services that distinguish John Theurer Cancer Center from other facilities. For additional information, please visit

The clinical research at Hackensack Meridian Health – John Theurer Cancer Center is part of a joint cancer research agenda with Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, and is part of a multi-year plan to form a National Cancer Institute (NCI) recognized cancer consortium. This recognition would support the scientific excellence of the two centers along with their capability to integrate multi-disciplinary, collaborative research approaches to focus on all the aspects of cancer.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 13 hospitals, including two academic medical centers, two children’s hospitals and nine community hospitals, physician practices, more than 120 ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, and urgent care and after-hours centers. Hackensack Meridian Health has 28,000 team members, more than 6,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The Network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, the number one hospital in New Jersey as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

The hospitals of Hackensack Meridian Health include: academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune; children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood. For additional information, please visit