Since founding Small change a year ago, I’ve connected with runners near and far and have learned about nonprofit organizations that are making our communities stronger; but I never imagined I’d hear a story quite like what I’m about to share with you today. It’s a story that needs to be told.
I was going about my day as usual, which typically means I’m connected to one of many screens and social accounts when I came across a tweet from @pariahassouri that intrigued me:
For those not familiar with “tweet speak,” this person was reaching out to the editor of Zelle, an online sister publication to Runner’s World, about a 5K race to bring awareness to sarcoma, a type of cancer. The tweet caught my attention for a couple reasons. First, several months ago I reached out to the very same editor on Twitter about featuring Small Change on Zelle and it resulted in an online article. I was hopeful that @pariahassouri would have the same result and her story would also be published. Second, the word “slay” conjured up images of powerful women who have faced adversity and are waging a fierce battle (my apologies but TV heroines Wonder Woman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to mind).
A few clicks later I ended up on @pariahassouri’s blog and read the incredible story of Dr. Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist, mother of six, wife, sister, daughter, and friend, shared from the perspective of Paria, her longtime friend.
In October of 2013, Amy had surgery to remove what she thought were benign uterine fibroids. Shortly after the procedure, she received a call that the pathology test came back as Leiomyosarcoma (LMS), a type of cancer. It turns out that the tool used to remove the fibroids, a morcellator, caused the cancer to spread throughout Amy’s body during the procedure, advancing her cancer from a stage 1 to a stage 4 cancer. Eighty-five percent of women with stage 4 LMS die within five years of diagnosis. Learn more about Amy’s fight.
By the time I finished reading Paria’s blog post about her friend I was in tears and knew I had to do something. I reached out to Paria and suggested we partner to help get Amy’s story out there. While I don’t have a huge blog presence or following, I thought back to the story of “The Little Engine that Could” and realized that if my blog post resulted in a few more people learning about Amy or I helped raise even a few dollars for sarcoma research, I’d feel in some way I’m helping Amy reach her goal, just as the little engine made it up and over the hill.
Saturday, October 17 is the 2nd annual Slay Sarcoma 5K Walk & Run organized by Amy and her family to bring awareness to her story and help fund sarcoma research. The race is held in Yardley, Pennsylvania and proceeds benefit the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center’s Slay Sarcoma Research Fund.
For those who don’t live in the area you can still be a Sarcoma Slayer as a virtual runner. You can be anywhere in the world and still help slay the beast. For those interested, Paria and her family have generously offered to sponsor your run and pay your registration fee. Contact Paria via her blog to make arrangements for your registration and have your race shirt and bib number sent to you. Paria will cover everyone in your family.
This morning I registered as virtual runner on Paria’s team and will proudly wear my shirt and bib on October 17 as I head out for what will most certainly be an emotional run. I encourage everyone reading today’s blog post to consider joining me as a virtual runner or making a donation if you’re unable to participate. If you’re located in Portland and want to join me, please contact me and we can choose our 5K route. Remember, Paria will pay for your race registration.
Amy and her family are currently meeting with legislators and voraciously battling to get the FDA to ban the morcellator. They have also started a Change.org campaign to ban the morcellator—I signed it today. For additional information about Amy and the morcellator, Paria posted several links at the end of her blog post.
Please help bring awareness to Amy’s story by sharing her journey with your friends and family—get it out there on your social networks. This could have been my story—your story, or the stranger we pass on the street’s story—it could be any woman’s story. Let’s make sure that no other woman has to face a battle like Amy and that together we can slay the beast and find a cure of sarcoma.
Sadly, morcellation recently took the life of 44-year-old Viviana Ruscitto—you can read about her story in an article written by Amy’s husband, Hooman Noorchashm.