From an Olympic gold medal win for cancer survivor Max Parrot to Sofía Vergara’s candidness about her cancer journey, here’s what’s happening in the cancer landscape this week.
Canadian snowboarder Max Parrot won an Olympic gold medal three years after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Max Parrot, a snowboarder from Canada who won a Winter Olympic gold medal this week, has overcome another incredible feat in his lifetime: cancer.
Parrot, 27, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in late 2018. After 12 rounds of chemotherapy, he announced that he had “won” against cancer in July 2019.
“They were really hard times and, at times, I felt like I was a lion in a cage because I wasn't able to do what I love the most, which is snowboarding,” Parrot told CNN in reflection of his win in Beijing. “That was the first time in my life that I had to put my snowboard in the closet. Snowboarding is all I know, so it was really hard for me.”
He also explained how his cancer experience allowed him to look at snowboarding with a new perspective.
“Every time I strap my feet onto my snowboard, I appreciate it so much more than before. I appreciate being able to do my passion every day,” he said. “You're smiling more, everything's more positive. You put less pressure on yourself, less stress on yourself.”
This was Parrot’s first-ever Olympic gold medal, which he achieved with a score of 90.96.
“I am extremely proud of myself and to take gold on that run means so much for me,” he said.
A young cancer survivor raised money for pediatric cancer research and awareness.
Ella Edwards was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at age 9 — back in 2017 — and became cancer-free after nine months of treatment.
After the grueling experience, Edwards was inspired to help other children in a similar position. She transformed “Team Ella” — a Facebook page originally created to raise money for her treatments — into the “EllaStrong Foundation,” with a goal of money and awareness for pediatric cancer research and wellness. With the help of her parents and four siblings, she has led the foundation to fundraising through lemonade stands, photos and hot chocolate with Santa and a virtual 5k/10k run.
The foundation has raised $47,000 as of December 2021, with donations being given to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Forever Fierce Foundation, Children’s Hospital Foundation and Ari’s Bears.
Edwards also organized a toy drive at her school, collecting 500 toys for children to have this past Christmas.
“I received a big Lego set for my birthday when I was diagnosed,” Edwards told Catholic Review. “It really brought me joy when I wasn’t feeling great.”
Edwards’ mom, Jennifer, mentioned that the family has “lost many friends” to cancer whom they’ve befriended since Edwards’ journey began.
“It’s really important to me to raise money for cancer research so kids can be put on trials,” Edwards said. “I know a lot of kids who have cancer and are on these trials, as well as their doctors.”
Former Yankees player Gerald Williams died at age 55 after having had cancer.
Gerald Williams, a former outfielder for the New York Yankees, died at age 55 this week after having had cancer.
He played baseball for 14 years, spending time on several teams including the Milwaukee Brewers, the Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
A statement from Hall-of-Fame player Derek Jeter read, “To my teammate and one of my best friends in the world, rest in peace, my brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Liliana, and their whole family.”
Jeter and Williams initially became friends after they met while playing in the minor leagues. Williams stood up for Jeter when he was bullied by other players, according to Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay.
“I felt like the last kid on the playground waiting to be picked for a game, and finally someone had selected me,” Jeter wrote about Williams in his 2000 book, “The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams.”
Actress Sofía Vergara spoke candidly about being a cancer survivor.
Sofía Vergara, 49, honored this year’s World Cancer Day with an Instagram post in which she opened up about being a cancer survivor.
She shared a photo of herself taken just after surgery she had for thyroid cancer over 20 years ago.
“At 28, ‘cancer’ was not a word I expected to hear,” Vergara wrote.
After doctors found a lump in her throat at a routine checkup, she began a long treatment process of radiation and surgery.
“Today, I get to call myself a cancer survivor,” she continued.
In the photo, which was taken at her first acting class post-treatment, a small scar is visible on her neck.
“Seeing the scar on my throat reminds me of how blessed I felt that day — and every day since.”
She also urged people to attend their routine medical checkups, to ensure early prevention.
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