Monmouth Medical Center is committed to providing support to those affected by cancer. Its Roll Out The Ribbons cancer awareness campaign is unique in that it pulls together the many cancer-specific ribbons to highlight the need to raise awareness to fight every cancer in every community. Since the campaign launch in the summer of 2013, thousands of community members have shown support by dedicating Ribbons of Honor to those they love who have been affected by cancer.
In 2014, the second annual Roll Out The Ribbons campaign kicked off during the annual Oceanfest 4th of July celebration in Long Branch. A focal point of Roll Out The Ribbons is engaging the public in the creation of the Promenade of Hope—a half-mile stretch of railing along the boardwalk in Long Branch that begins near Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant and ends just before the Ocean Place Resort and Spa — by tying multicolored ribbons with messages along the rail. From Memorial Day through Labor Day 2013, Monmouth Medical Center proudly hung more than 7,000 ribbons along Long Branch's oceanfront Promenade. Roll Out The Ribbons' "Ribbon of Honor" was designed to represent all types of cancer, as symbolized by its color: lavender, the official color of awareness of all cancers. The colored stripes represent the 12 most common types of cancer: thyroid, prostate, pancreatic, bladder, breast, colorectal, endometrial, kidney, leukemia, lung, melanoma and lymphoma.
Monmouth Medical Center president and chief executive officer Frank J. Vozos, M.D., FACS, notes that the Promenade of Hope delivers messages of hope and healing to the community. "As we once again fill the promenade with ribbons throughout the summer, we create a beautiful visual reminder of the fight against cancer and the need to support those facing a cancer diagnosis or grieving the loss of a loved one to the disease," said Dr. Vozos. "We thank the individuals and businesses who supported this exciting campaign by helping us create an unforgettable and inspiring Promenade of Hope last summer, and look forward to joining with the community on another successful campaign."
This year, Monmouth has created a natural extension of this message writing by encouraging people affected by cancer to experience the benefits of therapeutic journaling.
"As more and more people created Ribbons of Honor, the therapeutic effects of expressing challenging emotions through the written word became increasingly clear," said mental health nurse Angela Brathovde, who serves as clinical director, Children's Crisis Intervention Services for The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth is the facilitator of Monmouth's Holistic Council and chair of the systemwide Barnabas Health Holistic Council. "With such overwhelming evidence of the beneficial effects of writing, Roll Out The Ribbons has introduced Expressions of Hope, a project encouraging people affected by cancer to experience the therapeutic effects of creating written expressions."
As clinical evidence mounts in support of expressive writing and its overall health benefits for people affected by cancer, scientists reveal specific advantages. Expressive writing helps people cope with stress and relieve anxiety, which can mean everything from improved mood to better quality and increased duration of sleep.
"Expressive writing has been shown to boost mental and physical health in people battling cancer; writing helps them express what is on their mind to relieve tension and improve quality of life," said oncology nurse Peggy Laggner, the clinical director of Outpatient Infusion Services for Monmouth's Leon Hess Cancer Center and an ad hoc member of the hospital's Holistic council and a member of the Barnabas Health Holistic Council. "There are no major guidelines for participating in the Expressions of Hope project—it's just about grabbing something to write with and something to write on and expressing the way you feel about cancer. Participants shouldn't feel bound strictly to words and sentences when creating their Expression of Hope—illustrations and graphics are welcome too."
Key to the Expressions of Hope project will be the creation of a book that compiles the many letters and postcards received.
"It is our hope that the Expressions of Hope, which are being created solely for the therapeutic benefits to the writers, will prove therapeutic for readers too," said Leon Hess Cancer Center social worker Joan Hogan. "Through the book, members of the community will have the opportunity to identify with the truly honest sentiments frustration, anger, grief and, most importantly, hope—expressed within the pages."
Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the detection and treatment of cancer at the Leon Hess Cancer Center and The Valerie Fund Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Monmouth Medical Center.
The 2014 Roll Out The Ribbons campaign also will feature a therapeutic journaling/wellness event for oncology patients and their caregivers, as well as anyone in the community affected by cancer. To learn more, visit www.rollouttheribbons.com.
About Monmouth Medical Center
Located in Long Branch, N.J., Monmouth Medical Center, a Barnabas Health facility, along with The Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, is one of New Jersey's largest academic medical centers and has been a teaching affiliate of Philadelphia's Drexel University College of Medicine for more than 40 years. From its earliest days, Monmouth Medical Center has been a leader in surgical advancement and has introduced many technological firsts to the region, including robotic surgery and other minimally invasive techniques. The hospital is routinely recognized by HealthGrades, the nation's largest premier independent health care quality company, for excellence in both emergency medicine and maternity care. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Monmouth as a regional leader in cancer, geriatrics, gynecology, neurology and neurosurgery. For more information on Monmouth Medical Center, visit