Everyone who has dealt with sarcoma knows a hero or two. Heroes support, encourage and inspire us in extraordinary ways. Just when we need them most, they are there. They challenge us, comfort us, and give us hope.
In early 2010, we invited everyone affected by sarcoma to tell us about their heroes. We received more than 100 touching tributes from 9 countries about people who have made a difference. From June through August, a new selection was published daily on the Everyday Heroes page.
As a part of the competition, eight heroes were chosen to receive special honors.
1st Place Award: Doreen Kossove
$3,000 has been donated to leiomyosarcoma research in Doreen’s honor.
Alison writes: “Doreen Kossove was multi-faceted, a scholar, scientist, mother, educator, and my dear friend. She encouraged people to advocate for themselves and provided thoughtful and accurate help online through the ACOR list and privately, extending the lives of hundreds of people.”
2nd Place Award: Odile Espesset
$2,000 has been donated to synovial sarcoma research in Odile’s honor.
Elodie writes: “After my diagnosis, my mom crossed the ocean and border control on her own and became our shopper, cook, cleaning lady, my 4-months-old son’s baby-sitter, my driver and my nurse. She had to learn how to drive on American roads, how to read American directions, how to communicate without words….”
3rd Place Award: Logan Alexander Brasic
$1,000 has been donated to osteosarcoma research in Logan’s honor.
Lori writes: “Throughout treatment and beyond, Logan has traded in his inability to play soccer with ways to enhance soccer skills of the children from our small rural area. Last year, he really turned a corner when, at our Team Sarcoma event, Logan proudly reclaimed his place in the net and played goalie once again!”
Honorable Mention: Kenji Matsumoto
$500 has been donated to Ewing’s sarcoma research in Kenji’s honor.
Honorable Mention: Precious Synamun Foster
$500 has been donated to angiosarcoma research in Precious’ honor.
Honorable Mention: Leigh Webb
$500 has been donated to Ewing’s sarcoma research in Leigh’s honor.
Honorable Mention: Keaton Lee
$500 has been donated to osteosarcoma research in Keaton’s honor.
Honorable Mention: Marina Symcox
$500 has been donated to GIST research in Marina’s honor.
The Everyday Heroes Competition was created and coordinated by volunteers of the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative. We would like to thank everyone who participated, including all of the volunteers who helped to make this project such a success.
After the shock of being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma this year, my son Corey turned around and hugged his dad and said “It’s okay; there is nothing I can do but be strong and do what I have to.” It was such a big statement from a boy of 14.
A week after he had his biopsy, Corey was to compete in his surf lifesaving branch titles. The seas were very big, and some of the boys were not making it out through the large surf. Corey had not eaten much during this week and may have been lacking energy, but he was determined to compete. There was not a dry eye on the beach as he caught the biggest wave and came in 4th place. At the presentation of his surf club he was awarded age champion and also won an encouragement award and a scholarship to go towards his training.
Corey finished his 4th round of chemo on the 14th of May and awaits his operation to remove his tumor on June 2nd. In between doctors’ appointments, he goes surfing with his father and brother. He says, “All my worries go away when I am in the ocean.” I don’t know what he was thinking when he grabbed someone’s Malibu board and decided to catch a wave and do a headstand on it. He did it, but also got the board in his face. BOYS!! He is out in the surf again, but no headstands please. Corey is our hero.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by Leigh from Gold Coast, Australia.
Dr. Jennifer Willert sits on the corner of the exam table when she talks to Vince. She talks TO him rather than ABOUT him. She tells him she’s sorry he has to go through this and knows it will be hard to get back into a treatment schedule again. Then, astonishingly, she gives him homework.
“I need you to go home and write a list of what is most important to you about how we tackle this cancer – which things you will be able to compromise on, and which things you’d prefer not to compromise.”
When Vince bravely tells her he doesn’t want his port put back in because his parents won’t let him play in baseball games with a port, she puts her hand on his knee, looks him in the eye, and tells him, “I will talk to your parents. I will see if we can get them to back off of that.”
A year and a few months after initial diagnosis of osteosarcoma, after 16 rounds of chemo, a surgery removing 9 inches of femur and replacing it with a rod and fake knee, after a thoracotomy and missing most of his 6th grade school year, after being cancer-free for 9 months, and resuming his regular school, and, most importantly, his baseball activities, a 13-year old boy is told by his caring oncologist that his world would be turned upside down again. As parents, we prepared him to hear that the cancer had returned to his lung.
As a compassionate oncologist who sees this kind of thing too often, Dr. Willert made this horrible situation better by giving a teenager a say in his treatment. He’s back with his baseball team, and Dr. Willert heads his cancer team.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by Vickie from Poway, California.
When I heard my name and the ‘C’ word in the same sentence, my world fell apart. As my brain shut down I had to consciously remind myself to breathe. But what can you expect when your dreams are suddenly stamped with an expiration date? After seventy-two sleepless hours, I did exactly what my doctor told me to avoid: I went on the Internet and googled the rare cancer that was now part of my identity. The more I read about endometrial stromal sarcoma, the more panicked I became.
Then I saw a link…a support group? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Desperate, I reached out hoping to find someone who would understand. Rosalie Peipert reached back. Not only did she understand, but she has been living with ESS for 29 years as of June 24, 2010; that’s 28 years longer than I thought possible. Her first words to me were, “You came to the right place.” As I read those words, I could feel her virtually holding my shaking hand. It allowed me to take my first deep breath in days.
Rosalie then shared her story with me: ESS was even rarer when she was diagnosed, and little was known then of how to treat it. Rosalie was the first one with uterine sarcoma to experiment with taking the aromatase inhibitor Femara in 2001. Since joining the ESS sisterhood, I have witnessed that no matter what road bumps this cancer sends her way, Rosalie is the first to reach out with warmth, comfort, and virtual hugs to welcome newcomers from all corners of the world.
Living with cancer is frightening. But knowing Rosalie has given me the courage to breathe, sleep, and live my life, knowing that she lit the dark path ahead of me with her brightly glowing spirit.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by Jill from Boise, Idaho.
Will Morgan, age 12, is my stepson and my hero. He is kind, loving, and has an infectious smile. Until last fall, he was just an ordinary Dallas sixth grader. He was never in the headlines, but he is so well-loved. When he experienced lingering pain in his thigh after youth football practices and at night, his world forever changed. After an alert Dallas orthopedic surgeon ordered a bone scan, Will soon faced a stunning diagnosis: Ewing’s sarcoma.
Shortly after diagnosis, a well-meaning stranger saw Will’s crutches and innocently asked him, “What happened to you?” Will simply replied with grace and kindness, “I have a hurt leg.”
Will’s faith, determination, and positive attitude rallied the support of a wonderful community of family, friends, compassionate care providers and others. A teammate’s father designed a “Will to Win” helmet sticker for his youth football team. The idea soon spread to another team, then to the entire league, then to several area schools. His elementary school principal designed “Will Power” t-shirts for his classmates. Friends also designed t-shirts with the saying “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way.” His baseball team now wears “Will Power” bracelets.
Since October 2009, Will has undergone regular in-patient chemotherapy, 8 hours of vascularized fibula graft surgery, and physical therapy. In May 2010, he led a team of adults and young people at the Dallas-Fort Worth Cure Search Walk to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Although home-bound from school since October, he will complete sixth grade and walk across the stage for graduation in early June, the day after his final chemotherapy cycle, as a survivor. Will’s will to win his personal battle has inspired me, and many others, to make a difference, and to help fight and win the battle against sarcoma and all cancer.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by Sam from Dallas, Texas.
My everyday hero is my best friend. We have known each other for more than 20 years, and she has been a tremendous support for me during my leiomyosarcoma journey. Her love, support, and determination have kept me in a good frame of mind in moments of great despair. We are both nurses, and she held my hand as I went under anesthesia in the operating room. She has been my advocate with physicians and family; I am safe because of her! I know that my situation has caused her much sadness, but together there is nothing to fear. I love her dearly. Thank you, Jana.
This Team Sarcoma Everyday Heroes entry was submitted by Barbara from Tulsa, Oklahoma.