By Pat Carragher - May 27, 2021
In 2007, Joshua Rivera was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Ewing soft cell sarcoma. Given a 15% chance to live, Rivera underwent treatment for 22 months, including 1,100 hours of chemotherapy, 23 radiation treatments and six surgeries. Today, he is a cancer survivor and recipient of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s “Leaders For a Cure” Award, given to individuals and organizations for their dedication to winning the battle against cancer.
Rivera has made it his personal mission to give back, dedicating his efforts tirelessly to dozens of groups, events and causes all focused on contributing to the prevention and cure of cancer.
“It’s because of this place. It’s because of the vision of Moffitt Cancer Center that I’m alive today,” said Rivera, manager of the Revenue Cycle Systems team within Moffitt’s Information Technology Department. “Some people don’t want anything to do with their cancer journey after they’ve beaten it. In my case I wanted to double down. I wanted to do what I could to be able to give back. I feel like it’s my personal and social obligation to do so.”
Rivera received a replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy as part of his award. He had the chance to show it off alongside the real Lombardi Trophy Wednesday during a special event with the Super Bowl LV champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization.
“It was very emotional,” said Rivera. “My girlfriend and I were crying in the car when we were talking with the president of the board of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. I didn’t even know I had been nominated, let alone won the award.”
Moffitt Cancer Center was also named a recipient of the Leaders For a Cure Award for supporting vital cancer research that is saving lives and bringing hope to the hundreds of thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer every year.
“The impact these individuals and organizations have made in the fight against cancer is an inspiration,” said Trace Tendick, president of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation. “They truly exemplify the spirit of Vince Lombardi, and it is an honor to celebrate them, especially after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made history as the first team to win the Super Bowl and Vince Lombardi Trophy at their home stadium.”
Moffitt President and CEO Dr. Patrick Hwu accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.
“It’s a wonderful honor for the Lombardi Foundation to give us this award,” said Hwu. “It honors the excellence that Vince Lombardi stood for. It honors the teamwork that the NFL stands for.”
"It’s a wonderful honor for the Lombardi Foundation to give us this award. It honors the excellence that Vince Lombardi stood for. It honors the teamwork that the NFL stands for."- Dr. Patrick Hwu, Moffitt President & CEO
As part of the festivities, hundreds of Moffitt team members and patients, including many die-hard Bucs fans, lined the halls of the Stabile Research Building for a chance to snap a picture with their team’s latest Lombardi Trophy.
“Our team worked so hard in a year where we had lots of unexpected issues,” said Hwu. “We knew that cancer didn’t stop because of COVID-19, so it’s wonderful to get to see them enjoy the event. Football is a team sport and so is our patient care with people from many different disciplines to look after our patients.”