What an incredible tour it’s been for us! We’ve had the opportunity to meet some really amazing survivors, caregivers and loved ones, and hear many inspiring stories of survivorship along the way. It truly does take a team to Breakaway from Cancer – and NCCS is privileged to be a part of Amgen’s initiative to connect patients and survivors with the right resources, from prevention through survivorship.
Throughout the week, we followed the Amgen Tour of California cycling event, sharing our resources and information to thousands of patients, survivors and loved ones in different cities, from Napa Valley to the streets of Los Angeles. All of the staff at NCCS were touched by the stories and experiences shared by these remarkable individuals, who define the work that we do.
We couldn’t have had a better kick-off to a week-long celebration of survivorship than in Santa Rosa, Calif. where the BFC team honored Marc Van Riper, a caregiver whose wife lost her 10 year battle with cancer. During their family’s fight with cancer, Marc learned there were limited options for children of cancer patients. To address this underserved group of survivors, Marc co-founded Kathy’s Camp for Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of the children of cancer patients. Kathy’s Camp for Kids is a place where fear of cancer is replaced with fun, friendship and encouragement.
The next Champion stop was Livermore, Calif., where we met Bob Hammer, a two-time testicular cancer survivor who founded the “Have a Ball” Foundation, that has raised more than $1,000,000 since its start. The fundraiser benefits 20 cancer organizations, sends kids with cancer to camps, and has established and granted scholarships for students. Way to go, Bob!
One hundred and fifty miles southeast, NCCS had the special privilege of introducing the small town of Clovis, Calif. to Susan Mott, a tireless advocate for awareness and fundraising for blood cancers. Less than one year ago, Susan’s life changed forever when her 20-month-old granddaughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Since then, Susan has raised money and organized blood drives.
The tour finished in the heart of Los Angeles to a crowd of thousands as Breakaway from Cancer—with help from TV personality Carson Daily and actor Patrick Dempsey—closed with the story of Danielle McLaughlin, the National and World Paratriathlon Champion for Female Below-Knee Amputees who, at the age of 18, had her left foot amputated due to a recurrence of synovial sarcoma. Danielle continues to work hard advocating for young adults with cancer and set an example with her extraordinary accomplishments as a paratriathlete.
Along with all of the wonderful Champions selected to represent the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, it was the thousands of unsung heroes of survivorship we met each day in the tent and at our booths that inspired us the most. We were privileged and honored to speak with so many survivors and loved ones and have a chance to offer resources and encouragement to all those living with cancer.