Jane stopped to talk to me on the way to the opening of Day 2 on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® this morning in Tampa Bay. She was part of a team of women bonded together by breast cancer survivors, friends, and one surgeon, all walking 60 miles to raise money for breast cancer research. I wanted to know more about her team and its leader, Dr. Sylvia Campbell.
“You know,” said Jane, “when I entered Sylvia’s office, there were pictures on the walls of breast cancer survivors, and Sylvia made it clear that she was there to give us hope. The way she talked to me…It was like talking with an angel.” I truly believed Jane as we stood there. I had worked around surgeons and doctors for many years, and my interaction with Dr. Sylvia Campbell (who prefers her patients call her ‘Sylvia’) was nothing less than extraordinary. Sylvia was dressed in a green imprinted t-shirt, decked out with the same pink accents that her teammates wore. They were all together, stage right, as the sun rose on the Tampa Bay 3-Day and its Opening Ceremony. I walked with the excited group of women (and one great guy!) as they launched themselves onto the streets of the greater Tampa Bay area on a three-day journey that would test anyone’s physical endurance.
Sylvia, however, was not surrounded by her current patients, past patients, and collected friends. She was surrounded only by friends.
“These wonderful people have all become so dear to me,” she smiles, as she points them out. Beverly, Jane, Sandy, Rosie, Paula, Cathy, Angie, Marvin, Bella, Marylynn, Sonja, Lauren, Janet…she names them off. She knows each one, and I start to ask about who has survived cancer, but then I realize that it doesn’t really matter. They all look wonderfully happy and that’s all that matters on such an exquisite morning among friends. “We’re Team 211!” She has to almost yell over the blaring music that pumps up the walkers continually. “Two Steps. One Goal. One Lifetime. 2-1-1. We started in 2006, and it was a way to tell people that I supported them. I support YOU!” she exclaimed as a teammate puts an arm around her.
Over the next two days, I see them on the route and at the rest stops. I see them laughing together in their camp and then back on the route. All I can think about when I see them is that there is a tremendous amount of hope and happiness in the group, which has been started by Sylvia. All I can think about when I see them is how lucky they are to have her as a physician and a friend.