Former major league baseball right fielder Darryl Strawberry and retired world champion professional boxer Evander Holyfield visited Sands Point resident Dr. Jonathan Haas and his cancer patients at Winthrop University Hospital’s department of radiation oncology on Tuesday, July 7.
“The athletes spent the afternoon at Winthrop with prostate cancer patients who are undergoing radiation,” said Haas. “It was a surprise for the patients. The visit was arranged by Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports. The visit was being filmed for a YES Network show that will air in August.”
Strawberry and Holyfield took pictures with the patients and signed autographs for them. “They autographed pictures with the Cyberknife, so that was pretty awesome,” said Haas. Cyberknife is a robotic radiation system designed to treat cancer patients. It delivers beams of radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy.
Strawberry, who survived colon cancer twice, shared his story with the patients. “It was fantastic to see the happiness on the patients’ faces. We work so hard to perfect the medicine for them and it was great to see them get this special gift,” said Haas.
U.S. Army Captain and Nassau County Police Officer Ricky Bruno, a cancer survivor, was invited to Winthrop to meet Holyfield and Strawberry. “Ricky was 17 years old. After 9/11, he wanted to go to West Point. But he woke up one day with a seizure. He had brain cancer and had to give up going to West Point. We treated him here at Winthrop. Ricky decided to become a radiation technician at Winthrop. After being cured, he asked me and his neurosurgeon to write a letter clearing him to join the Army. He went to Afghanistan and finished a tour of duty. He ultimately became a captain. He then went into the Nassau County Police Academy and became a police officer this year. Helping him beat cancer was one of the highlights of my career,” said Haas. “We wanted him to be at this event.”
Haas has lived in Sands Point for four years with his wife Jodi and their twins. His children attend Weber Middle School. Haas, who is originally from Merrick, is the attending radiation oncologist at Winthrop-University Hospital and a clinical assistant professor of radiation oncology at Stony Brook University. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, his MD from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and did his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.