As a survivor of a difficult cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), Tania Stutman was dealing with a disease that didn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation. Given the chance, she jumped into a clinical trial to take a new drug. Years later, the therapy still works for Tania, but this medicine does not always work for others or becomes resistant. With the help of her doctor and husband, Tania launched the GIST Cancer Research Fund, which has raised more than $8 million for hospitals performing GIST research.
At age 14, Sarah Swaim was diagnosed with 2 types of acute leukemia, and endured months of therapy and complications. After regaining her health, she volunteered at organizations dedicated to helping children with cancer and advocated for research funding on Capitol Hill. Subsequently, she underwent a stem-cell transplant, and, despite all of her health issues, she has remained upbeat and positive, according to friends and family.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, Lanie Mena Meissner was scheduled to have a double mastectomy. An infection prevented her from having the double procedure, so she needed a second surgery to have the second breast removed and a reconstruction. Throughout, a friend remarked that she never complained and never lost faith. She found peace through her artwork and using her creativity.
Going through throat cancer followed by breast cancer, and currently living with a chronic form of cancer, as a teacher, Michelle Brodtman uses courage as a theme in everything she does—for her students, family, and the cancer community. To deal with the effects of therapy, Michelle began running. She became a volunteer and won the first-ever Heart and Soul Award from the American Cancer Society.
Clint Cummings, a tattoo artist appearing on TV, used social media to bring awareness to cancer after he was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. He fought his battle publicly, posting photos while in the hospital and informing his fans as he went through his colostomy, chemotherapy, and surgery. Looking to positively impact others, Clint created the first-ever Art of Heroes event. Fans, friends, and family attended the event to learn more about colorectal cancer and to raise funds for the cause.
Dela Hight was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and dealt with ensuing neuropathy, chemo brain, and fatigue, yet she uses her energy to help others and raise funds for cancer research. She attends a support group to help others and makes herself available for questions. Her work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), specifically the Light the Night program within LLS, has given her a platform to fundraise on her TEAM Hight’n Awareness. Over the past several years, her team has raised $17,000 as the top team in Oklahoma.