Friends battling cancer see their favorite football teams play each other
Ray Shoemaker and Aaron Anderson have been friends for about two decades. Over the past few years, they’ve battled cancer together, too — even sharing the same oncologist.
So it only made sense that they’d go see their favorite football teams play each other on Sunday, something made possible by their oncologist and by local nonprofit Dream Makers, which helps bring joy to terminally ill adults.
The men were all smiles on a tarmac at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on Sunday, where a private plane had been chartered to bring them to San Francisco, to see Anderson’s Seattle Seahawks battle it out with Shoemaker’s San Francisco 49ers.
“We wanted to do this game anyway and we weren’t going to be able to do it,” said Shoemaker said, who sported a 49ers jacket. “We can’t afford it, with all the costs of everything, and this is — this is awesome.”
The men’s oncologist, Dr. Tom Spillane of Dignity Health, said his two patients — who never complain, despite undergoing difficult chemotherapy treatments — never wanted anything special.
“When I told them, ‘Hey, let’s do something fun with you guys,” they were like, ‘No, we don’t need it. We’re good,’ ” said Spillane, who’s based in San Luis Obispo.
Then, a few weeks ago, Anderson approached Spillane and asked the doctor if he could help Anderson and Shoemaker get tickets to this football game.
“I’m a huge Seahawks fan and Ray is a huge 49ers fan and we’ve been bugging each other for years about who’s the better team,” Spillane said Anderson told him. “I made a call to Ronda (Beaman, founder of Dream Makers) and she reached out to her team and put together this super special day for these two guys, who are very deserving.”
Jill Marshall, a Dream Makers staffer who led the effort to get Shoemaker and Anderson to the game, said the men will be escorted to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. There, they will be taken onto the field before heading to a luxury sky suite, which was donated by Dignity Health.
The men will also have an opportunity to meet some of their favorite players, according to a news release from Dignity Health.
“These kinds of things recharge your batteries and I thank the Dream Makers so much, because it’s a really cool deal,” said Anderson, decked out in a Seahawks jersey and team colors. “Simple things are hard to do, and it takes the joy out of things. If they take care of the details, it’s smooth sailing and we can have a good time. It’s appreciated.”
When asked what they’re looking forward to about their day, Shoemaker grinned and said, “The 49ers winning.”
Anderson shook his head and smiled. “We’re clinching playoffs and going to the Super Bowl. It’s Super Bowl or bust!” he said.