Success stories put faces on the fight against cancer

Cancer Walk Kickoff Breakfast speakers inspire support

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

July 27, 2012
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Two moving stories of survival illuminated why thousands of people have walked to raise millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment at the UMass Medicine Cancer Center of Excellence. Amanda Garron, whose father is a cancer  patient, and Roger McAdams, a patient himself, took the podium at the kickoff breakfast for the 2012 UMass Medicine Cancer Walk, held in the Blais Pavilion on Wednesday, July 25. Each summer, the kickoff primes new and returning team leaders for the Cancer Walk, now in its 14th year, which this year will take place rain or shine on Sunday, September 23.

When Garron’s father was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer at age 49, his prognosis looked grim. But, she said, “We gained a fabulous team here at the Cancer Center. Without these men and women, my father might not be here today.” It is thanks to the treatment he has received at UMass Memorial, Garron reported with tears in her eyes, that he has lived to walk her sister down the aisle, and now looks forward to holding his soon-to-be-born first grandchild.

Frail but happy, McAdams credited his survival a year after his diagnosis of inoperable and aggressive pancreatic cancer to his enrollment in a clinical trial for an experimental chemotherapy drug underway at the UMMS and UMass Memorial. “Yesterday I started my 20th cycle of the chemo that I’m on, so for me it is working,” he said. “I couldn’t be any place on earth better than here for my treatment.”

“We all have a story—a personal story, a family story, a colleague’s story—and it is because of these stories that we have chosen to get involved in the fight against cancer,” said Emily Cabrera, event manager for the walk. Cabrera introduced the entire cancer walk staff, including Garron, who participated in her first UMass Medicine Cancer Walk last year and is now employed as a recruiter for the walk. “We’re here to help, so if you need anything, give us a call.”

Cabrera directed team leaders to the FirstGiving online tool to assist in fundraising. She also encouraged walk participants to engage with each other via the walk’s Facebook page and Twitter account (@UMassCancerWalk) to share fundraising stories and pictures, and help motivate others to join in. New this year, bright orange walk T-shirts can be purchased, with $10 from every shirt sold going directly to the walk.

“Whether your team raises a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars, every dollar counts to help research and clinical trials here at UMass,” emphasized Cabrera. For more information, visit the UMass Medicine Cancer Walk web pages, call 508-856-2589 or email cancerwalk@umassmed.edu.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
UMass Medicine Cancer Walk thanks 2011 fundraisers
Emotional stories launch UMass Medicine Cancer Walk
Thousands walk to raise money for cancer research
A walk that keeps cancer research going strong