It has been 7 years since I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The world as I knew it got completely flipped upside down. 7 years later, I am so lucky to say that I am cancer free and took my last dose of chemotherapy 4 years ago, on March 30, 2016-- two years, 1 month and 10 days after diagnosis. In those two years of treatment, I fought for my life every day but I never had to fight alone. I was not only blessed to be surrounded by the most amazing group of friends and family, but I was given the best medical team in the world. True angels. Leading that army of angels was Dr. Dan DeAngelo. A man who not only is an angel, but is a genius-- a person who is paving the way in cancer research. A person that not just the Dana-Farber community is lucky to have as part of the team, but the world at large is lucky to have. 7 years ago, I never would've said I was lucky to be diagnosed with leukemia but today, I know that I was because not only did it change my perspective of life and what's important but it brought the most extraordinary people into my life that I am inspired by each and everyday. They inspire me to do good in this world and so since I am not a doctor, nurse or scientist, I try to give back by being an advocate for this community and raising funds for this incredible organization.
After participating in the Jimmy Fund walk for four years, I formed the Neuk the Leuk team which is focused on raising funds specifically for Dr. D's research. In the past few years, him and his team have discovered and pushed through 9 new therapeutic drugs and just received their first t-cell drug approval for adults this year. (T-cells are part of the immune system and this groundbreaking form of therapy collects T-cells from the patient, modifies those cells to latch on & kill cancer cells, and then reinfuses them back into the patient.) This specific form of therapy and research development is critically important as it being used on patients that have rarer forms of leukemia that don't yet have high survivor rates. For me, I was a lucky one. They had a treatment plan and it worked. But for far too many patients, the treatment plans don't work and having this sort of 'back up' plan can be their last chance at beating this disease. The best part is that this form of therapy is not restricted to leukemia, so while Dr. D and his team initially focused their research efforts on leukemia patients, this therapy is now being tested on other types of cancers. The cherry on top? Dr. D is an established physician and educator at Harvard Medical School and he shares his findings internationally so that thousands of communities & future cancer patients can benefit from his discoveries. Net net is that his team is making an impact on cancer research in across the globe but they can't do it without a lot of financial support.
Cancer funding has, of course, been affected too in the wake of the pandemic, so Dr. D and his team are in need of community donations to fund their research now more than ever. But when other things may be able to be paused or pushed off, a cancer diagnosis cannot be, and neither can the research. Patients need our help now. Research HAS to continue now. We HAVE to continue to give cancer patients the hope that they deserve. These donations change people's lives. In many ways, they can save people's lives for years to come.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting my participation in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk-- every dollar helps us move one step closer to a world without cancer.
Love & light,