HOUSTON - A local woman gets the opportunity of a lifetime to celebrate the end of her cancer treatment. She got to do it with her very own cheering squad and the support of her favorite professional football team!
Many cancer patients get to ring a bell at the end of their cancer treatment, often surrounded by family and friends. Elizabeth Weiss got to celebrate her moment in front of tens of thousands of people, after completing four rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer.
"The music starts going and the smoke and the fireworks start going and they call out my name and I went running out and Toro met me there and he was holding the bell and they said, aggressively ring that bell, so I was giving it my best. And then I got to run out and stand next to the cheerleaders, as the team was being announced, which was an amazing experience. Something I will not forget, certainly," smiles Elizabeth.
What a moment for her to cherish forever, after all that she has been through since last April.
"I started noticing an abnormality in my left breast and went into the doctor did a couple of mammograms and biopsies and on June 3, which was a month and a day after I turned 40, they called and told me that the tumor was positive for cancer," explains Elizabeth.
Her treatments began quickly after that tough diagnosis.
"I went ahead and had a double mastectomy at MD Anderson, and then went through chemo treatment through the fall, and then in January of this year I had reconstructive surgery, and now I'm just doing hormone therapy for the next five years," says Elizabeth.
The American Cancer Society helped make the terrific Texans moment take place.
"There are so many like Elizabeth that have gone through this journey and have really get to celebrate and ringing that bell and doing it on the field. Wow, that truly was unique, but it symbolizes that we want people ringing the bell every day, and that's our goal and Elizabeth is a great example of that, having the support of the Texans and the McNair family," states Jeff Fehlis, who is the
Executive Vice President of the South Region of the American Cancer Society.
This bell-ringing moment was particularly special for Elizabeth since she has been a Texans fan from Day 1.
"I'm a native Houstonian, so from the beginning of when the Texans came to town, I've been a big fan and, you know, being able to go to games over the years has been very exciting and so I was very honored to be asked to participate in the game," exclaims Elizabeth.
She goes on to say that she rang the bell in honor of all cancer patients, especially those the past 18 months, who often had to face their battle all alone in the hospital, since visitors were seldom allowed during the pandemic.
She started out with long, thick locks before treatment and had to face losing her hair, even tried to fight it by wearing a freezing cold chemo cap, but there was no stopping the fall-out.
Her celebrations are heart-felt by everyone who knows and loves her. She's thankful the American Cancer Society, or ACS, has teamed up with the NFL.
"It has been a long-standing relationship and it grows every year and it's really about, you know, the, the term this year is intercept cancer, and what crucial catch does throughout all the NFL cities including Houston. Is it really does create the awareness and because of the pandemic, so many people either deferred or skipped those important screenings that allow them to detect cancer early enough to make treatment options broader and the survival chance is so much better," explains Jef.
Some cancer screenings declined by 90% during the pandemic. Through a program called "Crucial Catch", the NFL and ACS are making sure cancer screenings are available. For many forms of cancer, including breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate, the 5-year survival rate is higher than 90% when detected early.
"I think Jeff is correct your early detection and screenings are paramount and working with your medical team, and listening to your body, you know, I saw an abnormality and immediately went in, even with COVID going on because I knew something wasn't right. So, you're being for yourself and doing the self-exams and working with your medical team, I think is just extremely important," says Elizabeth.
Early detection often means successful treatment, so even more survivors can ring the bell.
For more information: https://www.nfl.com/causes/crucial-catch