Battling stage IV cancer, Andy Sealy’s “Breast Friends” are rallying together to support their friend by hosting a Sunday fundraiser
By Lindsey Nolen
Andy Sealy first made national headlines when she threw her breasts a goodbye party, called “Ta Ta to Andy’s Tata’s,” in March before undergoing a double mastectomy. After the surgery, she was informed that her cancer was actually stage IV metastatic, rather than Stage I as previously thought, and now some of her “breast friends” are coming together to throw yet another party in her honor.
Dubbed “Andy’s Banger,” past and present employees of McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way, where Sealy has worked since 2009, will be gathering at the famous sports bar on Sunday, May 21 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Through selling $50 tickets, which will include a buffet, draft beer, wine and soda, as well as drink specials and the chance to win a door prize, 95 percent of front door proceeds, 100 percent of auction items, 50/50’s, shirt and wristband sales will go directly to Sealy, who resides in Pennsport, to contribute to her medical bills and living expenses while out of work.
“Andy has been an employee and a ‘McFamily’ member for years, so it wasn’t even a second thought. As soon as we heard of her situation, we all came together and thought of what we could do,” Dale Condi, director of special events and private parties at McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park, said. “I had to put quotations around ‘Banger’ because that’s one of Andy’s favorite words to use for a big and fun event which her parties always are.”
This personal battle began in January when she was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding lumps during a routine self-examination. But following a mastectomy, Sealy learned that because the cancer is metastatic — meaning it can spread from the original site to one or more sites elsewhere — it has spread to a part of her spine and right hip.
As a result, Sealy’s oncologist has advised her that there is no need for chemotherapy. Rather, she has been put on a slow, progressive treatment that involves getting a Lupron injection to stop her body from producing estrogen, the hormone that feeds metastatic breast cancer, as well as a Zometa drip to strengthen her bones once every three months. She is also taking Tamoxifen daily, an anti-hormonal pill used to block the female hormone estrogen in the body.
“I know it’s going to get harder at some point, and that the median lifespan for someone with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer is three years,” Sealy said. “I just try to put a positive spin on everything. All I can control now is my brain and how I handle this.”
In continuing to face her diagnosis with extreme positivity, there was no better way to raise funds and awareness than by throwing another party, this time at the bar she’s worked at for almost a decade. In getting her start at McFadden’s in ’09, Sealy was first hired at the Northern Liberties location after meeting general manager John Bernardo through a friend. Soon after, she switched to working at the ballpark and instantly fell in love with its sporty vibe and its group of employees.
“To me, McFadden’s is like a big comfy sweater that I love crawling back into,” Sealy said. “Since I started, I always come back year after year to work there, even if it’s just for a few Phillies games or events. I never thought I would love it there as much as I do, and to get another family out of it.”
Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Since her mastectomy, she said she had to borrow fold-up chairs from a neighbor to keep up with the number of McFadden’s friends coming to visit her. One Sunday, during what had becoming an every-other-week brunch among her friends, Bernardo stopped by just as a friend was mentioning throwing Sealy another party. The idea stuck, and the McFadden’s planning committee began organizing the event.
“[Sealy] has been in the industry so long that she has so many people who love and want to support her in any way possible,” Condi said. “She would do the same for any of us with no questions asked.”
Sealy explained that to her, this love and friendship stemming from McFadden’s had not only brought employees together, but friends of employees as well. She describes it as the link that gave her the big group of friends she has today, and thus the many people who are committed to helping her fight breast cancer. As many of them say, “Cancer picked the wrong girl.”
After her “Banger,” Sealy will undergo her next bone scan next month, and plans to meet with her oncologist a few days later. Although there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, Sealy plans to continue with her treatment and positive mindset, appreciative as ever for the support her “McFamily” has provided.
“I laugh at everything, I can’t help it. I find it hysterical that people are even interested in my story because I’m just doing what I have to do,” Sealy said. “All I want is for the ‘Banger’ to be a great time, and to stress to everyone to feel their boobs regularly, and not to feel crazy if they think they feel something. Instead, go get it checked out because this could happen to anyone.”
To purchase tickets to Andy’s “Banger,” visit eventbrite.com/e/andys-banger-tickets-33445899586.
Donations are also being accepted through the Andy Sealy GoFundMe Campaign, gofundme.com/andysealy.