I can only imagine the fear and uncertainty of facing cancer in 1971, and the added anxiety of having it afflict your child. At the time of my diagnosis—Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)—my parents were faced with all of these.
I was only four years old, life expectancy was just six months, and the survival rate was roughly 10%. My parents brought me to Memorial Sloan Kettering for experimental chemotherapy treatment. There were no answers. But there was hope.
I was given three all-chemotherapy protocols—each demonstrated success for a time, and then failed. In their unique team approach to patient care, our doctors collaborated quickly with researchers to improve the treatments each time. The fourth protocol that MSK developed and administered finally cured my disease. It is the one that hospitals still use today.
My seven-year treatment period was made possible by the enduring love of my family, the extraordinary talent at MSK, and generous funding from people whom I will never know.
I am dedicated to Fred's Team because, "to whom much has been given, much is expected." In our darkest hour, my family had arguably the best place in the world to go. And in my first steps toward reciprocity as a healthy young adult, I found inexplicable joy in being a fundraising runner, helping establish a Chair in Neuro-Oncology honoring New York City Marathon co-founder, Fred Lebow.
Then MSK deepened its focus on underfunded Pediatric Cancers. They learned of my history and involvement with Fred's Team, and felt my story could help define their new mission. Under the direction of Dr. Richard O'Reilly, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, The Aubrey Fund was created in 1997 to ensure that MSK's researchers have the resources they need to advance their lifesaving work.
In Fred's Team, I also find a mental sanctuary. With each mile, I think about members of our family and dear friends whose outcomes were not the same as mine. And I am invigorated by the progress that's made every day because of each runner and the people who support us.