The Chargers and Hoag Cancer Institute partnered for a great cause last week, hosting a breathwork and meditation class for breast cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones.
Cancer survivors and patients all got together at Hoag Performance Center early last week for the class, as they were also joined by Chargers safety Derwin James, Jr., and linebacker Nick Niemann.
The Breathwork class was part of the NFL's Crucial Catch Initiative and ahead of the Bolts Crucial Catch game on Monday Night Football.
"You know, it was amazing," Susie Spanos, a breast cancer survivor herself, said about the event. "It was amazing, it was really like a guided meditation and a healing to sound. I feel so much better after going through that. And I think all the people here, had that shared experience of it was just an amazing energy, an amazing opportunity for these people, for all of us.
"The entire NFL shines its light on to its Crucial Catch program, breast cancer awareness," Spanos later added. "And because I am a survivor, it's really important for the Los Angeles Chargers to shed their light on it, which we do. It's so inspiring to see these women and hear their stories."
A class like this can be a big help to those going through treatment, as the techniques could help patients and survivors who are going through high-stress situations.
"Today's event was a breathwork workshop for breast cancer patients, breast cancer support staff, the whole breast cancer team, to learn about a tool to kind of cope with the stressful situation that is going through cancer and cancer treatment," Dr. Ellie Kraft of Hoag Hospital said.
"That's pretty amazing, that this stuff can really help people get through it essentially and come out on the other side and not be completely traumatized from the whole experience," Kraft added. "Today was just about showing everyone and teaching everybody a way that they can do that."
The class was led by former NFL tight end Joe Fauria, who was on the Detroit Lions active roster in 2013 and 2014. Fauria took up meditation following his playing career and eventually worked his way to sharing it with others.
It was a full circle moment for Fauria, as he saw the effect a morning of relaxation and mindfulness had on all the participants.
"Any emotion that has been stagnant or not, or let's say previously buried, it gets unearthed and brought to the surface and you're forced to address it," Fauria said. "And you are, you know, if you are open and you surrender to it it'll flow through you in a beautiful way and it'll come out in the form of like I said, laughter, yelling or tears or a gentle smile or feeling the tingles."
"I think today we broke through and got some people to open up and feel the things that they needed to feel," Fauria later added. "And it was really beautiful to witness."
The Chargers and Hoag Cancer Institute partnered to host a breathwork and meditation class for breast cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones. Joined by players Derwin James Jr. and Nick Niemann, the group was welcomed to Hoag Performance Center to enjoy a morning of relaxation and mindfulness leading up to the team's annual Crucial Catch game.
It also made an impact on some of the members of the Bolts like James, who participated in the entire class.
"It was a lot of fun," James said about the event. "I got to do the full class. At first, I didn't know what to expect coming in, but once I got warmed up and I was with everybody in the room it felt natural. The instructor was really good too, it was a great event for sure.
"I feel like it's very important with what I do too because my mind is constantly what I'm doing on a daily play, on a daily basis, whether I'm in the building or out of the building," James later added. "Being able to get those mental breaks and releasing the mind and doing the right breathing techniques with what breath work offered today. It was just amazing for me too."
Part of the event after the morning breathwork included inviting people to share their experience with each other, an important part of the exercise that helps bring everyone close together.
"It was quite beautiful to hear that pretty much everyone was activated," Fauria said. "Everyone was feeling the energy. Usually, it's in a room but in this open air, usually the energy has places to go, but people still felt it. I still felt it. My assistant still felt it. And you know, people felt the tingling in their hands.
"We saw a few tears. I saw a bunch of smiles," Fauria added. "I saw a few tight hands all these things are reactions of the very healing modality that breathwork is. And it was beautiful to witness and guide people to get to that point. And I'm sure a lot of people were surprised, and it was just beautiful."
The breathwork and meditation class brought a lot of people together, and brought a positive experience to everyone involved as the NFL and the Chargers continue to try and raise awareness for early screening and early detection.
"These ladies are breast cancer patients and survivors who have been through so much and for us as a football team, what we know we can offer them is our support, our love and a way to hopefully give them a good day and a good experience," Chargers Community Relations Manager Cheyanne Warren-Diaz said. "So today is really about hopefully having an amazing day, that they get to see our practice facility, they get to meet some of our players.
"I hope that it means a lot to them to see Susie Spanos here supporting them, participating in the workshop with them as a breast cancer survivor herself and someone who really advocates for the importance of early detection and screening," Warren-Diaz continud. "I just, I hope that it gives them a good positive experience and day with the team."
Warren-Diaz later added: "The NFL's Crucial Catch initiative really strives to highlight the importance of early detection, while also honoring people that have fought or people that have loved ones that have fought. I think for us, this really encapsulates all of what the NFL's Crucial Catch is and what the Chargers Crucial Catch is. We hope that someone sees this event and gets inspired to maybe go get a screening of something, but also that we all have a connection to cancer. All of us have our own unique story and just hoping that it just maybe brings a smile to their face."
Secure your Chargers Mini Plan today! Click here to learn more.