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Oncology Nurses Get Ugly and Fight Cancer

Posted on December 9, 2016, 12:00 PM

It all started four years ago, with a few nurses in a bar, on a presumably cold Chicago night just before the holiday season. Connie Webb, an oncology nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, was brainstorming an idea for a holiday party with some of her nursing friends. She noticed the SU2C Ugly Sweater Campaign on social media and thought the idea to host their holiday party outside of work, wear an ugly sweater, and raise money for cancer research was perfect. “I am incredibly humbled by what I do, especially around the holidays when I see patients and their families who have to spend their time in the hospital,” says Connie. “Raising money for cancer research that is focused on getting new treatments to patients quickly, seemed like the perfect gift I could give them, and the rest of our colleagues agreed.”

Today, what started as a holiday get together for co-workers, friends and family has turned into an annual event that hundreds of people look forward to each year. It’s become something Connie and her co-worker Annie Ryan would never have imagined. Annie came on board to plan the fundraiser during its second year and has helped to grow it into the huge event it is today. “Almost everyone has been touched by cancer in some way,” notes Annie. “For people to have the opportunity to enjoy a fun holiday evening with their friends and know that their donation is translating into research that is making an impact is incredible. It gives power to people who might otherwise feel powerless.”

As oncology nurses, both Connie and Annie know first-hand how important cancer research is. “Unfortunately cancer is an intelligent disease that requires constant research,” says Annie. Research also gives hope to the hundreds of patients they work with and sets a precedent for future generations as well. “I am proud to be supporting research in honor of my mom, who is a three time cancer survivor, and my patients,” she continues. “But, we are also proud to be a part of a movement that is actively looking for solutions to create a future where anyone diagnosed with cancer survives.”

With the growing success of the fundraiser, Annie and Connie are quick to point out they could not have done it without the help of some amazing partners who help make each year better than the last. “We held the event at Fatpour Tap Works in Chicago last year and are hosting it there again this year,” says Annie. “The Owner Erik Baylis and Sales Manager Bianca Montoya have been incredibly instrumental in making the event seamless, creative and perfectly executed” Local Chicago companies also donate to the fundraiser’s raffle. “It’s truly become a Chicago event. We got all kinds of texts and messages when SU2C had the placard moment in this year’s World Series,” says Annie. “People who attend our fundraiser are so proud to be a part of something that’s making such a significant impact in cancer research.”

One of the biggest highlights of the fundraiser for both nurses is when former patients and their families can attend. “The best is when you see a patient who is in remission, and you don’t even recognize them,” says Connie. “When their hair has grown back, their face has filled out, and they have an appetite. In a job with many ups and downs, it is truly one of the best parts to see our patients thriving.”

Without question, it is the passion that both Connie and Annie have for their jobs, and the patients they care for, that make this SU2C Fundraising event so special. While each day at work has many ups and downs, they both agree that there is no greater privilege than helping patients and their families’ deal with cancer on a personal level. It inspires them to continue to Stand Up To Cancer every day at work, and once a year, in the ugliest, tackiest, holiday outfit they can find.

This holiday season SU2C is encouraging everyone to help us make this season of giving a season of giving back. Encourage your loved ones to support cancer research by attending an ugly sweater party like this one, starting your own fundraising event or simply donating in honor of a loved one. 100% of all public donations received by SU2C supports groundbreaking collaborative cancer research. It is a gift that will help create a world where more cancer patients can become survivors.



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