Courtney

Sports you have played or are interested in starting:

I was a circus performer in college at FSU. I would love the strength to be able to get back into it.

What are your health and wellness goals?

I would like to lose the weight gained through treatment but more importantly gain my strength back to I feel good and healthy.

How will this grant help you reach your goals?

This grant would help me to continue with the cancer program I was previously apart of and to work with the trainer that specializes in mastectomy patients.

Personal motto or favorite quote?

May you live until you die.

Top 3 songs on your playlist?

Lord Huron is my most favorite band- they have a lot of songs about living and traveling. Ends of the Earth is one of my most favorites.

Favorite hobby?

Playing the harp and hiking with my dogs


Matt

My name is Matt. I grew up the son of two immigrant parents from Russia in Brooklyn, NY. For college, I moved up to Boston where I studied math and music at Northeastern U. In school I played on the water polo team, was an RA, and was a member of the NU Wind Ensemble, then served as its president of the for 2 full years, including during COVID times (not great for a wind ensemble, but we made it work!). I’ve dedicated the first 23 years of my life to making music with others (I play the saxophone in multiple community bands around Boston and conduct bands and orchestras in the area!), and I’ve had some of my original arrangements and compositions premiered in multiple historic performance spaces around Boston! After I graduated Northeastern in 2021, I started working full time at Wayfair on their pricing team, while spending my time outside work hiking, staying active, playing my saxophone and conducting, going to concerts, playing board games with friends, cooking great food, lap swimming at my local YMCA to stay fit, and bird watching in the Boston parks.

Around late August 2022, I started experiencing chronic migraines that interfered with my work and life. We went in for an MRI and it was discovered that I had a tennis ball sized brain tumor that got into my ventricles and was causing problems. On 9/26 I went in for a 10 hour brain surgery, where they removed most but not all of the tumor. After the surgery, I was completely limp on my left side, but a couple of days later my fingers and leg muscles started waking up! After a couple weeks in the hospital, I was sent to a rehab facility where we worked on building strength and fine motor control back into my arm and leg, and I also had to relearn how to walk! I made fast progress in rehab, and they even discharged me 4 days earlier than expected! I am now home walking with a cane and walker.

We met with oncologists after rehab, and the prognosis of the tumor was an aggressive Grade IV Glioblastoma (Brain Cancer), which has also spread to my spine and spinal fluid – not very good. My next step in treatment is to start chemo and radiation therapy in the next couple of weeks. I would love to use this grant money to start a home gym for myself to continue to build strength on my left side and stay active while my mobility is limited.

Quote: “Life is Amazing!”


Anthony

Anthony started with this journey when he was 12 years old with Ewing Sarcoma, Stage 4 with metastasis in his lungs. he is battling since then a few relapse however kept up with middle school and high school he is on his senior year graduating on June 2022.

Personal Motto: "Keep fighting."


Amy

At the age of 30 years old, Dr. Amydee was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She underwent extensive surgery, intensive chemo, and the long recovery afterwards. As a strength athlete herself, she used weight based training to aid in her recovery and was able to return to national level competition following her diagnosis.

Personal Motto: “One day at a time. One squat at a time.”


Jenna

My name is Jenna, and I have been a ball of energy since the day I was born. Before I could even walk, I was given the nickname “Scoochie” because I still managed to get myself around just by scooching and wiggling. Because of this, I have always been an athlete. I did everything under the sun until 8th grade–dance, gymnastics, cheer, basketball, softball, volleyball, track–you name it. Once I reached high school, I fully committed myself to dance. My studio team even won Dance Worlds in 2017 (my medal still hangs in my room). In college, I made the UW Club Dance Team. I was extremely involved in my team; I was media manager then coach then vice president and finally president my senior year. Beyond dance, I have always pushed myself to the limit in the gym and always “trained like an athlete.”

Her story: Going into my last semester of college, I felt a lump in my abdomen. I wasn’t in too much pain, but it was concerning and random enough that my gut told me to go to Urgent Care. By midnight that day in the Emergency Department, I was told I had cancer –specifically a cantaloupe sized tumor in my retroperitoneum. COVID protocols kept visitors from me that night, so I processed this alone. Within the week, I had a biopsy done and was diagnosed with a high-grade leiomyosarcoma, a cancer of the smooth muscle. As it is an extremely rare cancer, treatment choices were placed in my hands rather than a standard of care. My treatment plan was as follows: egg retrieval (treatment may leave me infertile), chemotherapy, proton radiation, and surgery.

1 month ago, I got the call that I am cancer free. I am exactly 6 weeks out of surgery today. Today, I ran 3 miles. It’s been 2 months since I have done more than walk a mile, but I needed to move my body to feel like myself again. I know I am starting with a body that isn’t as capable, but my mind is ready to move again. Recovery and fatigue are long, but I am ready. I have to live my life knowing there is a very high chance of recurrence of retroperitoneal leiomyosarcomas. I am trying to not dwell in that anxiety, but instead to truly live.

Personal Motto: “Recovery and fatigue are long, but I am ready”