As you may know, I’ve participated in the annual Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk by walking 13.1 miles every year since my grandfather, Harold “Bucky” Rogers, lost his battle with Acute Leukemia in 2006. My grandfather was like a father to me and my best friend. Since his passing, I’ve seen too many of my closest friends and family members fight the tough fight, and so I’ve always vowed to raise awareness and monetary support of the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber. More recently, I lost my mejor amigo, Carlos Padilla, to prostate cancer shortly after he turned 58—you can read more about our story here.
Every year I anticipate honoring new cancer heroes by wearing their names on my shirt, but I never thought this year it would be my “Auntie” Claire Fowler. This January, Claire had been experiencing constant abdomen pain and after eight weeks of testing and various procedures, she went to Dana-Farber for a second opinion. In late March, the doctors at Dana-Farber relayed the news that she had a rare Stage 4 GI tract cancer: Neuroendocrine Carcinoma and it had spread to her lungs, giving her one year to live, if untreated.
Claire is the most selfless individual, and I am so grateful she has always been a part of my life. She has been a second mom to my sisters and me and a best friend to my mother. Her three daughters and the three Salley girls grew up playing together nearly every weekend. We witnessed the benefits of the Jimmy Fund early on when her middle daughter, Jennifer Pavlovich, underwent chemo treatment there for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of six; she has been in remission for 32 years (!).
Claire has never missed a childhood event of mine; served as my Confirmation sponsor; styled my hair for prom; attended my school plays and all of my graduations. Without complaint, she has helped care for her dying parents and helped care for my aging grandmother. She joyfully volunteers for her church, Holy Family of East Taunton, photographs endless events, has raised three beautiful girls, and is a Nana to seven (and expecting number eight in July).
Claire will be 68 this coming October. I have never pictured a world without her in it, and as I type this, the reality that the odds may not be in her favor—because cancer can be cruel and unjust—have stricken me with great sadness. However, I am very hopeful she will beat these odds because she is fortunate to be receiving the best treatment plan put together by doctors at Dana-Farber, the same place that has helped millions, and undoubtedly saved her daughter, and my cousin’s life as a little girl.
To date, Team Bucky Rogers has raised nearly $75,000 over the course of 16 years, and we are hopeful to surpass $90,000 this year with your support. I write today to ask if you’d please be willing to donate a gift of any size in honor of Claire, and in honor or in memory of a loved one in your life that has been affected by cancer.
With utmost appreciation,