Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center at Sugar Land Helps Make Spirits Bright for Cancer Survivors, Caregivers

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital staff and Dillard’s staff at Holiday Fashion Show: Yolanda Lopez, Cancer Survivorship Program Manager, Kimberly Mason, Dillard’s Personal Shopper, Melony Appleby, Dillard’s Store Manager, Amy Sebastian-Deutsch, Director of Oncology & Infusion Services.

Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center at Sugar Land recently teamed up with Dillard’s – First Colony Mall to host a holiday-themed fashion show for cancer survivors and caregivers.

A sell-out crowd of survivors, caregivers and family members cheered on six models – three cancer survivors and three Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital health care providers – who modeled the latest holiday fashions, selected in partnership with Dillard’s staff.

The Nov. 5 event was part of the hospital’s Cancer Survivorship program which provides a range of healing activities, from art and music therapy to yoga and support groups – all free of charge.

“Our mission is to bring people together and let them know that they aren’t alone in their cancer journey,” said Yolanda Lopez, Cancer Survivorship Program Manager. “The fashion show was a fun way of celebrating these fantastic women and the people around them who provide care and support. Everyone had a wonderful time.”
The event included charcuterie and other refreshments, and Dillard’s decorated the runway area with a festive holiday look.

“We’re very proud to partner with Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center at Sugar Land to support the cancer survivor community here in Fort Bend,” said Dillard’s Store Manager Melony Appleby. “It was such a fun and enthusiastic atmosphere, and our associates were in awe of how beautiful everyone looked. We’re already thinking about how we can build on our partnership with Houston Methodist Sugar Land.”

The event emcee was Betty Gonzales, a cancer survivor who also happens to be Director of the Nurse Practitioner Service at Houston Methodist Sugar Land.

“Participating in the fashion show was so much fun,” she said. “My favorite part was introducing fellow cancer survivors and how they are not letting their history of cancer define them. Each of them exhibits a passion for life, which is contagious and brings inspiration to us all.”

Gonzales said the participants and guests shared a special bond because of their experiences.

“No one chooses to be part of the ‘cancer club’, but it is a kinship like no other,” she said. “There is a great healing power being around others that have gone through something similar as you. Meeting others who are smiling, thriving and moving forward gives other cancer survivors hope and strength that they can do the same.”

Another major benefit of the event was helping survivors regain a positive outlook about themselves, especially heading into the holiday season, said Amy Sebastian-Deutsch, Director of Oncology & Infusion Services at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.

“Undergoing cancer treatment is a significant challenge, and most patients don’t feel their best, even after treatment has ended,” she explained. “Having an opportunity to get dressed up and celebrate the season is proof that it’s okay to enjoy life and feel good about yourself. That’s an essential element in survivorship.”

Thanks to a grant from the George Foundation, the Cancer Survivorship Program at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital began in 2017, with a focus on providing services to all survivors regardless of where they received treatment.
“At the time, there weren’t any organized programs for cancer survivors in the area,” said Sebastian-Deutsch. “We wanted to offer a variety of programs that would help survivors adjust and adapt to life after cancer and keep it free so everyone could participate.”

Approximately 2,500 Fort Bend County residents are diagnosed with cancer each year, and many of these individuals have needs that extend long after their treatment and care ends. The Cancer Survivorship program provides ongoing classes that support physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual health, as well as support groups for breast cancer, general cancer and ostomy survivors. The hospital also helps link survivors with resources for financial, transportation and other types of assistance.

“When it comes to cancer, a lot of people focus on technology and treatments but overlook the importance of quality of life,” said Sebastian-Deutsch. “Our Cancer Survivorship program helps bring a little joy and camaraderie to these survivors while teaching them coping skills. It’s an important benefit for our community.”

To learn more about the Cancer Survivorship program at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, visit https://www.houstonmethodist.org/cancer/locations/sugar-land/patient-support/
or call 346.371.2258.