Survivors celebrate nearly a decade of impact with Game On Cancer, helping others tackle their own battles

James and Patty Vazquez have each battled their own cancers. That’s why, for nearly 10 years since, they’ve teamed up with Game On Cancer to help others tackling their own tough battles.

It was a Monday morning when James got a phone call with the diagnosis that changed his life: stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. By then, the tumor in his hip had grown so large the surrounding bones were fractured. Barely able to move on his own anymore, his Henry Ford Cancer doctors launched into action with a treatment plan: six months of chemo and radiation.

James met some amazing people during his treatment — perhaps most surprisingly, several Detroit Lions Legends. James met these former players through Game On Cancer, a Henry Ford Health initiative in partnership with the Detroit Lions that helps patients and their families with the financial burdens of a cancer diagnosis.


James and Patty meeting Detroit Lions Legends at the start of his cancer journey
As his tumor had severely impacted his mobility, James was forced to medically retire. Game On Cancer was able to help his family offset the ongoing costs of groceries and gas so they could focus on his treatment and recovery.


“Having that support meant a lot. That’s when we decided that as soon as my treatments were done, we would form a fundraising team of our own and help others.”

When James and Patty mentioned their plans to his treatment nurse, Mary — who had become a close family friend — she invited them to join her as a volunteer, selling 50/50 raffle tickets at the Detroit Lions home games to benefit Game On Cancer. Since then, members of the Vazquez family have volunteered every year in addition to their own fundraising, knowing that every penny raised supports more patients on their cancer journeys.

Cancer struck the Vazquez family for the second time when Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021. “This time, we knew who we could turn to,” said James.

Game On Cancer supported Patty’s recovery with access to acupuncture and chiropractic care. Supportive oncology services like these offer critical solutions for patients dealing with difficult symptoms and side effects from treatment, relieving everything from chronic pain and fatigue to nausea and nerve problems. Inspired by yet another experience, the Vazquez family has continued to fundraise for Game On Cancer for almost a decade.


James and his daughter volunteering for Game On Cancer
“We come back every year because we have seen many of our friends go through this fight and not have the support we had,” shared James. “Facing mobility challenges and being forced to retire at such a young age took a bit of getting used to — but I use that energy to help other patients get support through Game On Cancer,” he said. “I am truly proud to see people I love directly benefit from nearly a decade of fundraising and volunteering efforts.


“Game On Cancer is a way for us to help others afford the care they need to stay alive,” he added. “Cancer impacts people and families of all backgrounds — and we know firsthand how much a support system like Game On Cancer can help.”

To all those like himself who fundraise, volunteer, sponsor or donate to Game On Cancer, James had one final message to share: “Thank you for making an impact for patients and families like mine. Please know, your support of Game On Cancer changes more stories like ours every day.”

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