Personal Stories of Cancer Survivors Told through Original Ballet

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJ Hamilton) held the Project WE vs. C event this past weekend, a two-day event including awe-inspiring performances led by Roxey Ballet and breast cancer survivors timed to coincide with National Cancer Survivors Day.

WE vs. C took place at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Breast Cancer: Personal Stories of Triumph featured the personal stories of 22 breast cancer survivors from RWJ Hamilton and the YWCA Princeton Breast Cancer Resource Center.

One such survivor was Billie Smith of Lawrence, NJ. She had stage 1 breast cancer and was cared for by Dr. Firas Eladoumikdachi, a breast surgeon with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and program director of the cancer center at RWJ Hamilton. Her story inspired the performance “Don’t Google Til You Know What You Got.”

“Participating in a program like this gives you a different perspective. When you hear the word cancer it is scary but this shows you can talk about it with people because you can live. We are all proof,” said Ms. Smith. “So many people came up to me after the performance. This woman I didn’t know, she hugged me and said, ‘I am going through cancer too.’ We just hugged and cried but it makes you feel good when somebody got something out of what we did.”

Community involvement is an important part of RWJ Hamilton’s commitment to care, which led the hospital to create Project WE vs. C, working with cancer survivors and the arts to spread the word about cancer in a meaningful and unique way.

RWJ Hamilton’s Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Hamilton is a local affiliate of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) in New Brunswick – the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in New Jersey. The mission of WE vs. C is to raise awareness of the importance of early breast cancer diagnosis and to support this top-rated cancer center acquire the newest technology and expand cancer services to save more lives through prevention, detection, treatment and ongoing support. The money raised will contribute to an $8.5 million, two-year project geared exclusively for enhancements to RWJ Hamilton’s comprehensive cancer program, including the purchase of the most advanced 3D mammography unit and a state-of-the-art linear accelerator for radiation treatments.

New Jersey ranks among the top five states in the entire nation for the highest cancer rates, among all types and genders, hospital officials say. Progress with improved screenings and identification of vital risk factors, along with access to top cancer treatments and clinical trials, are leading to higher survival rates.