Bridgeport Hospital hosts celebration for cancer survivors at zoo

Nearly 150 cancer survivors, more than 400 of their family members and about 100 staff members — about 650 people in all — attended Bridgeport Hospital’s 10th annual Survivor Safari June 10 at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. The event included free zoo admission, a barbecue, family entertainment and the symbolic release of butterflies to signify new beginnings and rebirth.

Oncology nurse navigator Kim Bielecki was the lead organizer. “Survivors take to heart the fact they’ve gone through treatment,” Bielecki said. “They can celebrate and move on because of advances in cancer treatment. Some patients have been coming to the safari for years.”

Bielecki joined Lisa Shomsky, clinical program director of Smilow Cancer Hospital services in the Bridgeport Hospital service area, in welcoming guests to the event. Both hospitals are members of Yale New Haven Health, and cancer services are among the specialties being integrated across the health system to help standardize and improve the quality of patient care.

“This is a most gratifying day but most of all, we’re grateful for all of you,” Shomsky said to the survivors on hand, referring to the progress they have made along their cancer journey.

Survivor Safari was sponsored by the Kaulbach Memorial Golf Classic and Norma Pfriem Cancer Institute at Bridgeport Hospital.

Cancer survivors release butterflies into the air to signify new beginnings and rebirth.

Cancer survivors release butterflies into the air to signify new beginnings and rebirth.

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