"Let there be no doubt that every step you take, every mile you run, every dollar you raise will make a difference in the lives of cancer patients in Philadelphia."
I was ten years old the first time I found out my mom had cancer. My brothers (aged 8 and 5) and I were sitting in the back of the car on the way to the beach with our parents. We were an hour into the drive when my mom turned around in the front seat and began explaining to us that she had Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer with a 20% chance of survival. What followed was a year of chemotherapy and radiation that caused my mom's hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes to fall out.
While hair grows back, the aggressive nature of the cancer required an equally aggressive form of chemotherapy. This chemotherapy caused irreparable damage to her heart, lungs and immune system. And while this treatment is what saved her life, it likely contributed to her developing a secondary cancer 10 years later.
Five years ago my world turned upside down once more when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The same day she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her best friend was diagnosed with leukemia, which ultimately required a stem cell transplant. My mom began her treatment in London (where my family has been living for the past nine years) and had to be hospitalized following each treatment.
So, why does this matter?
My mom was a division one cross country and track athlete and current member of the Hall of Fame at St. Joseph's University, the same university I graduated from in May of 2017. I grew up eating organic foods, minimal amounts of refined sugar, no soda, and a love of being active and outdoors thanks to the model my parents provided.
My point in listing these things is to remind you that cancer can happen to anyone. No matter how healthy and how active you may be, you are not immune to being diagnosed with cancer. And while it was often hard to remain positive throughout my mom's treatment, we were extremely fortunate in a way that many others are not - the cost of treatment did not threaten my parents ability to put food on the table or keep a roof over our head the way it does for so many others.
Legacy of Hope
I am fundraising for Legacy of Hope not only to remember and recognize what my mom and one of her best friends went through, but also to ensure that we continue to provide patients with the support they need throughout the treatment process. Legacy of Hope supports families by providing financial aid, food, and other basic necessities.
They also serve to fund research for a cure. Legacy of Hope's Scientific Review Committee seeks out promising research in order to ensure that each dollar donated towards cancer research reaces its maximum potential.
Had my mom been diagnosed with this type of breast cancer in 1987, she probably wouldn't be alive today. She was treated for the lymphoma and breast cancer using two newly developed drugs, Rituxin and Herceptin, which have saved thousands of lives. The money you donate matters. It helps to develop new, lifesaving drugs that ultimately saved my mom's life and ensures those in treatment have a roof over their head and continue to receive the basic necessities.
“We must strive not for what has already been accomplished or that which seems easily attainable, rather we must imagine the world when our loved ones never again hear the words “you have cancer“, and then reach for this with unwavering resolve."