From a cancer survivor walking 3,000 miles for charity to a runner with cancer crossing the finish line with the help of her teammates, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
Cody O’Connor, 25, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma 11 years ago. After being told he would never walk normally again after having his right fibula removed, O’Connor is now a survivor and plans to walk 3,000 miles to show the importance of not giving up.
The “Walk for Hope” starts June 17 in New York City, stops in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and ends in Los Angeles. The walk will raise funds for pediatric patients with cancer through O’Connor’s non-profit, Champions Do Overcome.
“I know first-hand how a family’s dreams can get shattered,” O’Connor told Journal-News. “It’s important to consistently show hope and light.”
He plans to complete the walk with a team of two to three people over the course of four months, averaging 22 miles a day. He has been training for the journey and will document his experience through videos, blog posts, social media and journaling as he meets and talks with people along the way.
“I want this walk to shed light on the ongoing mental and emotional toll that cancer can have on a person and their family,” said O’Connor. “I want this journey to spread positivity, especially following a year that has been dark to many.”
Yeva Klingbeil, a senior at Shenendehowa High School, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in November 2019, a rare cancer that affects muscle tissue. She began chemotherapy that year for a cancerous mass around her jaw, followed by radiation that damaged her brainstem.
Klingbeil has regained some of her function after weeks in the ICU. Her tumor has shrunk to half its original size.
At a track meet this Monday, Klingbeil’s teammates helped her cross the 4x1 relay finish line, arm-in-arm, while other teammates and runners from various schools chanted her name and waited to congratulate her. The display of teamwork and friendship has gone viral on social media.
"While Yeva has gone through all of this and more, she has never stopped caring about her friends and family and has never given up hope of recovery,” wrote her coach, Rob Cloutier, on a post.
Luna Perrone, 10, bumped into Tiger Woods in a park this week. Perrone, who is from Jupiter, Florida, has Ewing sarcoma. Her family recently spent thousands of dollars out-of-pocket after their health insurance was not accepted at a hospital during treatment.
Perrone happened to run into Woods last weekend at a soccer tournament for her siblings. The two posed for a photo in which Woods has a leg cast and crutches as he recovers from a recent car accident.
Understanding the difficult of doctor appointments and recovery, Woods told Perrone to “stay strong.”
"Stay strong physically and mentally and inspire others to do the same,” Perrone added in an Instagram post. “No matter what you are going through YOU GOT THIS!!!"
Students from Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio, recently held a fundraising event to support their teacher, Heather Brosey, who was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas.
The fundraiser was a hair-dyeing event in which participants lined up to have their hair colored pink, to help cheer up their teacher while raising money through ticket purchases.
“In a year unlike any other and full of restrictions and limitations due to Covid-19, the Talawanda National Junior Honor Society students were seeking a way to show their support for Brosey, and an idea was formed to host a fundraiser in her honor,” said fellow teacher, Megan Murray to Journal-News.
Brosey requested that the funds be donated to the Luna Cares organization, which financially supports women with breast cancer and their families.
The event, which was run entirely by seventh and eighth grade National Junior Honor Society members, also used staff members to create a ticket-buying incentive.
“Students have been buying tickets to vote for staff members they’d like to see with pink hair or putting a ticket in for a chance to have their own hair sprayed pink for the day,” said Murray.
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