BALTIMORE, MD – One week after being surprised with free tickets during chemotherapy treatment, a group of Ravens fans battling breast cancer found themselves enjoying the ultimate Purple Friday – the 5th annual Sip N’ Paint Night at M&T Bank Stadium. The MedStar Health patients arrived outfitted in purple jerseys, hats and shirts but would leave with much, much more.
Behind the Scenes
Before Sip N’ Paint, the women enjoyed refreshments and a special “behind the scenes” tour of an area few Ravens fans ever get to see: the team’s locker room. Escorted by wide receiver Chris Moore, the guests were presented with Ravens apparel, MedStar Health gear, autographed footballs and plenty of photo opportunities. Moore also personally handed out tickets to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, where the women would be recognized for their brave battles against the deadly disease.
Cynthia Hicks-Leeper of Baltimore loved seeing where the players hang out before the game and get in their “little huddles,” but the best part was knowing that she’s not alone in her cancer journey.
“To be around people who really know what it feels like, that’s really cool,” Hicks-Leeper said. “You’re all dealing with the same thing and you’re fighting that same fight together.”
Taking a Time Out
After the locker room meet-and-greet, the women jumped right into sipping and painting; joining the fun, refreshment-filled session hosted by Trevino Paint. They were joined by Ravens cornerback Cyrus Jones, whose family has also been touched by breast cancer.
“Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother to breast cancer in 2010, so when I got asked to do this event it was something that I jumped at right away,” Jones said. “She would have loved something like this.”
As patient Collen Discher worked on her pink and purple Ravens-themed artwork, she talked about being thankful for the opportunity to focus on a good time instead of thinking about what she’s been through. Just ten days earlier, Discher underwent a double mastectomy in hopes of treating her second battle with breast cancer in 15 years.
“I didn’t even think about it and I’m still healing. I still have wounds that I need to take care of,” she said. “This makes you feel like, yes I beat cancer, but I’m going to beat cancer twice. This is my first Sip N’ Paint and they also gave me a ticket to the game, so I’m feeling really, really special.”
Treating Patients Well
To help make the event extra special, MedStar Health care teams coordinated with the Ravens to make sure that the patients invited to M&T Bank Stadium were surprised in style. The Friday beforehand, the women thought they were going to routine chemotherapy appointments. Instead, they were greeted by Ravens cheerleaders and mascot Poe at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. That’s when they were handed a ticket to the VIP experience, kicking off a week to remember.
“That was really fun!” said Hicks-Leeper, who is never short on smiles despite her 17-year breast cancer battle. She’s been treated by Breast Center director Kristen Fernandez, MD, for 15 of them.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else but MedStar Health, because MedStar Health is awesome. It’s always been that way for me,” she said. “People have come into my hospital room and sat on my bed and talked to me. They didn’t treat me like a patient, they treated me like family.”
MedStar Health serves as the Official Medical Provider of the Baltimore Ravens.