Ninth annual ‘Swing Pink’ raises record proceeds for breast cancer

The ninth annual Swing Pink luncheon, held Sept. 18 at the Navesink Country Club, raised record proceeds of nearly $150,000 to benefit cancer services at Monmouth Medical Center’s Vogel Medical Campus in Tinton Falls. The five-story, 150,000-square-foot outpatient center, located at the historic Fort Monmouth Myer Center site, is set to open in 2025.

Swing Pink, led by co-Chairs Terry Ingram and Debbie O’Donoghue, and supported by the Leon Hess Cancer Center Council, is a day filled with activity, lunch and celebration.

While the morning’s athletic activities were cancelled due to rain, an enthusiastic group of more than 125 attendees joined hospital leadership for the luncheon, which featured an update on MMC cancer services as well as the presentation of the annual Judith W. Dawkins Ambassador of Excellence Award.

Recipient of the 2023 award was Terry Ingram, an Oceanport resident who founded the Swing Pink event in 2015 and has been actively involved with MMC philanthropy since 1979, when she joined the Dr. Stanley Nichols Pediatric Auxiliary as the mother of two young sons.

Guest speaker for the event was grateful patient Maggie Chetrit, a Middletown resident who shared her breast cancer journey at MMC since being diagnosed Nov. 1, 2022, with stage 4 triple negative breast cancer. The 45-year-old mother to 16-month-old Rhys, who was joined at the luncheon by her wife, Megan, and a legion of friends and family members, thanked those in the room for supporting MMC, adding, “It benefits people like me — you have no idea how grateful I am.”

“My world was turned upside down — I had a huge tumor in my breast, a few near my lymph nodes and more than 26 tumors in my lungs,” she said, adding that when she was diagnosed in her native Netherlands, she was told she had only about two years to live. “When I turned to MMC for my treatment, my despair changed to hope. I feel so much stronger mentally and, more than eight months into my treatment, I’m being told my future is very hopeful.”

Noting that she travels 40 minutes via Ocean Avenue to get to MMC, she shared how strange it is to take a beautiful drive along the ocean to get treatment that she knows will make her feel sick.

“But you know what? I love going to Monmouth Medical. Every visit, I’m welcomed by an array of nurses who always make me smile and feel like I’m a part of their team — I want to say they are the Forrest Gump to my Lt. Dan,” she said. “I couldn’t do this without their support.”

“In the last 9 months, I’ve lost my hair, I’ve lost my appearance, I’ve lost my Fridays and my weekends. But, also, I’ve made friends, I’ve gained confidence, I’ve gained strength,” she adds. “When I am feeling better after my treatments, I work, I play with my daughter and continue building our life. I am doing well, and I am determined to be well for as long as I am allowed.”

Together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, MMC provides close-to-home access to the most advanced treatments, including clinical trials.