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With You, We Stand: August 8, 2011

Posted on August 3, 2011, 3:21 PM

Mark Herzlich
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich wasn’t an NFL draft pick in April. But recently, he settled for the next best thing. Herzlich, a recent cancer survivor, signed a rookie free agent contract with the New York Giants, announcing his decision to play for former BC coach Tom Coughlin by way of Twitter. “The support has been unbelievable, keep it coming and I want to be a Giant,” he posted. Herzlich, 23, was on the NFL watch list after being named ACC 2008 defensive player of the year his sophomore season. Herzlich’s ambitions were derailed when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer in his left leg. He sat out the 2009 season while undergoing treatment and came back for a productive run last fall. “We are excited to give him an opportunity to see if he can make it in this league,” said Giants chief executive and co-owner John Mara. “He’s a great kid who has obviously been through a lot. I’m in favor of the signing and, in fact, I suggested it. We think of him as a prospect.” BC coach Frank Spaziani is confident in Herzlich. “I think after his bout with cancer and coming back last year, he made improvements every week

and by the end of the year he was a very productive football player,” said Spaziani. “He was by no means where he wanted to be or where he was (before cancer). But he kept improving. He’s extremely smart and extremely driven, and put on top of that he’s a football player.”

Sandy Xenos
During her three decades running the Boston Marathon, Sandy Xenos of Hopkinton placed some of her finisher medals in her father’s coffin and gave others to friends struggling with illness or grief. But last week marked the first time one of the keepsakes went to people who helped save the Bellingham teacher’s life. Months before, the doctors had been caught a little off-guard when Xenos announced her plans to still run the Boston Marathon, despite a scheduled full hysterectomy for her uterine cancer. But she stuck with her plans, even upon finding out she needed chemotherapy, a regimen that meant the race would fall between the fifth and sixth sessions. “Your professionalism and kindness will never be forgotten,” she said, reading a prepared salute at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before tearing up and going off-script. “You’ve changed my life.” At Xenos’s behest, a jeweler had inscribed the medal with her initials, the initials of Drs. Michael Muto and Ursula Matulonis, and “Yawkey 10” - the tenth floor of the hospital’s Yawkey Center, where she received chemotherapy. The doctors plan to frame and display the blue-and-gold memento. “There will be no better place for my medal,” she said of the medal’s new home at Dana-Farber.

Jan Taylor
For the first time in nearly a decade, Jan Taylor feels like herself. Nine years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, reconstructive surgery has given the New Zealand woman the confidence to get back in the pool for the first time since her mastectomy. Taylor was only 45 when she found a lump near her armpit one day in 2002. She was urgently referred to a specialist, had surgery just four days later and woke up with the lump - and most of her left breast - gone. “Suddenly I just felt like I was old,” she said. In between rounds of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, she struggled to get used to her new body, avoiding mirrors and sticking to a wardrobe of high-necked clothing. She also had bad scarring that was visible when she wore a swimsuit, so she pushed her love of swimming to one side. “I went down to the pool a couple of times and thought, ‘I can’t do this.”’ For a long time Taylor had been doubtful about having a reconstruction because of her age, but was convinced by family and friends and went back into surgery in April. “It was amazing - I don’t regret it for a minute. I’m still 55 but I feel much better about myself.” Getting back into the pool for the first time was an “awesome” moment.

SU2C is inspired by stories like these and millions of others. Cancer takes one person every minute and to wait for someone else to save our lives and the lives of those we love is no longer an option. At SU2C, we believe that together, we can end this disease by becoming one unstoppable movement. The end of cancer begins with you.

Learn more about the groundbreaking research SU2C is funding and how you can get involved today.


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