Finding a Swift Cure for People Like Me

VeloSano, a year-long fundraising initiative at Cleveland Clinic, means “swift cure” in Latin and 100% of every dollar goes towards life saving and life altering research. In eight years, VeloSano participants and supporters generated nearly $30 million which has been used to fund more than 200 research projects. 

We all receive emails and posts about walks, galas and events to donate to. We want to support our friends and family in their pursuits as well as the causes dear to their hearts. But this one, VeloSano’s Bike to Cure is personal. I’m now on the other side; I’ve become the recipient of the efforts and research funded by your donations. I’m the patient.

Publicist to patient

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I work at Cleveland Clinic. But previously I worked for a large hotel chain handling their public relations. While working for the hotel, I had the distinct privilege to partner with the VeloSano team. Then I started at Cleveland Clinic and handled on site publicity and PR for the Bike to Cure event. I told the stories of the doctors and researchers who dedicated their lives to finding a cure for cancer as well as the patients whose lives were touched both by the disease and the research happening at Cleveland Clinic. I did this for several years never in my life imagining that I would be that patient. I would know the doctors, not because they had a media interview, but because they were treating me.

Why donate to THIS cause?

Multidisciplinary care is a phrase I professionally write and speak on a weekly if not daily basis. It’s a fancy multisyllabic word that means doctors from different specialties work together to pool their knowledge as a collective for patient care and treatment paths. This co-treatment or joint approach is what my bone marrow transplant is all about because technically my neurologist doesn’t perform bone marrow transplants and my oncologist doesn’t treat multiple sclerosis. HSCT is complicated and I needed both oncology and neurology in equal measure… and I need them talking to each other still as I navigate my year-long recovery.

Being the 10th person at Cleveland Clinic to undergo HSCT is both humbling and terrifying. I never could have done what I did and endured and persevered, without absolute trust in my care team and the institution.

VeloSano often touts “cancer research” but it is truly funding ideas, creativity and hypotheses of researchers in all specialties from heart and vascular to neuro, children’s to urology. The fundraising opportunities available invite those very smart people to come forward — no idea too small — to see what is scientifically possible. Their ideas may not be big enough for national funding, which is why every dollar donated to VeloSano matters so very much.

True friends go the extra mile (or 50)

My friend Q, who happens to be married to the oft-mentioned best friend and badass, Maggie, is riding 50 miles in VeloSano this year. Q is riding and Maggie is using her fundraising mastermind to raise those critical dollars. They’re doing this for me. Maggie met my care team at countless appointments, was with me in the Emergency Department when I collapsed from paralysis, held my hand during chemo, was by my side when I stopped breathing and needed an emergency response team and so much more.

They give of themselves daily helping with (or leading) my physical and emotional support. They run errands, assemble furniture and carry out the trash. I’ve said all along, “it takes a village” and they both are critical members of mine.

I’m in awe. I’m humbled. I’m grateful.

My superstar oncologist

My wonderful oncologist received a VeloSano Impact Award. Her project aims to find better treatment approaches to graft-versus-host disease, making the curative therapy of bone marrow transplant safer for patients. You can learn more about her research and the specifics of her award. It’s not just about cancer when the research impacts individuals with diverse autoimmune diseases being treated with bone marrow transplant.

Never too many thank yous

Thank you for following along on my HSCT journey. Thank you for those who have already donated. Thank you for considering a donation. And thank you for using your hard-earned dollars to help me and so many others you’ve never met.

Cancer, chronic illness and the need for specialty care will undoubtedly touch each person reading this post. What if your donation funds a project that finds a new treatment opportunity for a loved one who lost hope? I was that person.

I know the people riding, the individuals volunteering and the researchers who dedicate their lives to finding answers. Science is badass and after what I’ve been through this year, anything is possible.

What if your dollars help find a cure?

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