BENEFITING: TRIPLE NEGATIVE BREAST CANCERFOUNDATION INC
EVENT: NYC Half 2013
EVENT DATE: Mar 17, 2013
It was about this time last year that I first reached out to many of you to ask for your support in my hope to raise money and awareness for an organization that had made a difference in my life. In doing so, I shared with you a bit of the story of my battle with breast cancer and the loss of my sister, Hally, to the exact same disease. As you might also recall from last year, among the things with which I am largely uncomfortable, the two at the forefront of that list are these: 1) the focus of attention on me and 2) even more so--asking for help. I suck at both of these.
So, I pretty much thought last year would be a one-and-done type thing. I ran my race, I raised more money than I had hoped and I was good—mostly because I was so inspired, grateful and humbled by your outpouring of love and support. That, I did not take lightly and I am not one to want to take advantage of the kindness and generosity of others. I realized though, that what we did together was good. And there’s always room for more of that.
There are so many things that have inspired me since—most recently, Martin Luther King, Jr., who inspires me every year (you can really blame him for this letter since I was on the fence until just a bit ago). And whereas last year I ran and raised money in honor and memory of my sister, I have decided that this year I will run and raise money in honor of my boys. There was a time due to my own illness that I thought having children of my own would be impossible. Shortly after being diagnosed, I remember lying on my bed, crying, kicking and screaming (literally) to my daddy that all I wanted in the world was to be a mom and how pissed I was to have had that opportunity stolen from Rick and from me. So almost exactly two years later, without knowing it, my Ryder gave me the most profound gift I will ever know—he made a mommy out of me.
Our boys are a source of every day inspiration for me. I am awestruck by their beauty, their character and the simplicity of their grace. For those of you who know our Ryder, you’ll instantly know about what I’m talking. With his sincerity, his kindness, his gentleness, his generosity, his sensitivity for others and his freckles—he is, at age 8, the person whom I aspire to be. And our Hayden—is sharp and funny and personable and popular and friendly and strong and confident. I made them and I love them. They are the thing in this world about which I am most proud. And they are the thing about which I am most protective. I’m sure that is the case for most parents. But for us there is the added concern that they may carry the same genetic mutation that has made life-threatening cancer the most unfortunate reality of our lives.
So while I wholeheartedly continue to support the YSC, my plan this year is to shift my attention to another meaningful organization, which does work in the very specific area that has so deeply and forever affected my life. The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation® didn’t even exist when I was in treatment. The reason for that is because at that time, the woman for whom it was founded, Nancy Block-Zenna, was a young, beautiful, vibrant mother, wife, daughter and sister. Nancy and Hally were introduced through mutual friends in 2006 when they were both battling advanced breast cancer. They shared medical and personal stories--they formed a quick bond as they fought through the chaos, pain and havoc that this type of disease wreaks. I truly believe that had both of their lives not been cut short in their mid thirties, they would have gone on to be good friends.
The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation focuses specifically on the subtype of cancer that took my sister’s life; almost took my mom’s; gave me a run for my money; threatens my Ryder and my Hayden and even the children I hope will one day be theirs. Triple negative breast cancer tumors generally do not respond to the targeted treatments that often successfully treat many breast cancers today. And while triple negative breast cancer can be responsive to chemotherapy, it can also be very aggressive and likely to recur. Unfortunately, I know this too well because Hally’s original tumor was almost nothing—it was tiny and it had not yet spread. We should have been able to fix her, we should have been able to save her. Yet over the course of three-and-a-half years--across the country, in and out of the top cancer-treatment and research facilities in the world--it eventually became apparent that Hally was fighting a battle she had no chance to win. And even though she most likely knew it, she never gave up and she never gave in. The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation is devoted to finding targeted treatment and a cure for this specific form of the disease. 100 percent of the donations to this organization go to supporting the mission and goals of the TNBC. My family has been supporting this organization for years and we will continue to do so because they are truly making a difference.
After surviving breast cancer, I did not take lightly the decision to fulfill my lifelong dream of having my own children. And while in many ways it was an entirely selfish decision, I know we made the world a better place by bringing our children into it. I owe it to my boys, however, to continue to protect them--to do anything in my power to shield them for as long as I can from the pain of illness, disease, sadness and death. So I support this organization whose goals are so closely aligned to my own, and to this cause so dear to my heart and meaningful to my life.
And that brings me to where I am now—my sofa writing this letter to you--and to this year’s NYC half marathon. Considering I’ve spent the better part of the last three months limping around on a bad knee, I don’t expect to run well in seven weeks. But I will do my best to run and finish. I’m hoping the grace, strength and courage of my mom, my sister and my boys has rubbed off just enough to carry me across the finish line. I’m not short on inspiration and I’m long one amazing guardian angel. As she has since the moment I was born, Hally’s got my back. I thank you for having it, too!
My love and gratitude,
Here’s my fundraising page on Crowdrise: http://www.crowdrise.com/lisayaccinorogers/fundraiser/lisayaccinorogers1
Also of inspiration to me this year is the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose unintentional, unlikely and ongoing contribution to science and research will likely contribute to a cure if ever there is one for disease such as the cancer that has so devastated my family. I highly recommend you read the incredible book that documents this amazing true story. And if you’re so inclined, instead of donating to my effort for TNBC, make a donation to the foundation established to support her legacy and her family.