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Uploaded on Jul 7, 2010
"We're not survivors; we conquered cancer," says Team TGIF founder and cancer survivor PJ Hamel. "We're ALIVE. We thrive. We're loving life, and having FUN." Twelve years ago, they started walking in the Prouty Bike Ride & Challenge Walk. As many as 20 survivors, friends and family have joined the team in some years.
About the video
The video was inspired by the "Pink Glove Dance," a YouTube hit created by Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. "We all loved it—it's just so full of joy. It makes you smile. It also makes you want to dance—and do your own video," Hamel said.
"[Choreographer] Denise Frawley worked up a dance for us, set it to music, and painstakingly coached us to the point where we could actually dance. Old bones, chemo-brain, total lack of rhythm for some—nothing stopped Denise, whose enthusiasm has been both supportive and contagious. 'You are DANCERS!' she'd tell us each time we met. And amazingly, we became dancers . . ."
"While Jeff Morris was filming us on the lawn outside the DHMC cafeteria, every time we looked up we'd see we had an audience at the windows stretching all the way up the building. Patients, families, docs and nurses—lots of people stopped to watch. It was fun to finish the take, look up, and wave like an American Idol star . . ."
"Was this physically difficult for anyone? I'd wager it was physically difficult for everyone. Once you have cancer, your body is never the same. Things you could do easily as a teenager and even in middle age are now painful. One of the women had a few moments of heat exhaustion, but we got to the finish line, together, just as we do at the Prouty."
"Most of us have [Norris Cotton Cancer Center] survivor stories. Some of us have been in active treatment as recently as within the past year; most of us are farther out; and the majority of us are still undergoing treatment of some kind. Sadly, one of our dancers passed away this past December. Instead of flowers, she asked that those who wanted to remember her make a donation to the Prouty, in the name of TGIF, which was always very important to her – as she was to all of us."
About Team TGIF
Team TGIF was founded by Hamel and Deb Grabill, cancer survivors whose coffee talks evolved into an ever-growing "support group without the social worker," as Deb calls it. "[Norris Cotton Cancer Center] will often recommend the group to women who they think would find it helpful," Hamel said. "Unfortunately, there are always more women being diagnosed. Fortunately, we're here for them. For each other."