It was in the fall of 2007 when Nicole, 26, felt a large mass in her abdomen. At first she ignored it, hoping it was nothing; she was a healthy, active woman in her 20s. However, when the mass didn’t go away, she realized she needed to see a doctor. In January 2008, after many tests and scans, Nicole was hit with life-altering news: She was diagnosed with a rare incurable cancer called GIST, a type of sarcoma. Thirteen years later Nicole is still here to share her story.
After a few years seeking treatment for her disease at various institutions, Nicole ultimately decided to receive treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York City. This was the beginning of multiple doctor visits and surgeries, including one to remove more than a dozen tumors and a third of her liver. In 2017, almost 10 years since her diagnosis, Nicole participated in a clinical trial with the goal of slowing or maybe even stopping the progression of her disease. This particular trial was almost entirely funded by Cycle for Survival, a national movement owned and operated by MSK that raises critical funds for rare cancer research.
About 50 percent of patients living with cancer have a rare form of the disease. Even though these diseases account for about half of all cancer diagnoses when combined, research on rare cancers is drastically underfunded, often leaving patients like Nicole with limited or no treatment options. This can be devastating to so many, but with the help of Cycle for Survival there is hope. Since 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised over $260 million, with 100 percent of every dollar going to research led by MSK. In 2020 alone, because of the extraordinary Cycle for Survival community and its founding partner, Equinox, the movement raised over $40 million to support a variety of initiatives across many rare cancer types. Doctors who receive these funds credit Cycle for Survival with launching and advancing trailblazing projects that otherwise wouldn’t have had the resources needed to get off the ground. In 2020, Cycle for Survival funded research for over 40 rare cancers, including:
- Pediatric cancers
- Brain cancer
- Blood cancers
- Gynecologic cancers
- Bladder cancer
- Gastric neuroendocrine tumors
- Kidney cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Liver cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
Nicole’s oncologist and nine-year Cycle for Survival participant Dr. William Tap, Chief of the Sarcoma Medical Oncology Service at MSK, is one of the doctors who received these crucial funds. “Cycle for Survival is our lifeline, our community, our strength. It has become a movement that is changing care paradigms for people with rare cancers,” he says.
Today, Nicole’s tumors are still growing, and there is no treatment or cure for GIST. However, clinical trials similar to the one she was on in 2017 keep her optimistic because she knows Cycle for Survival will continue to fund new and different treatment options for her and other patients worldwide, allowing them to live longer, fuller lives. “Every dollar that we raise truly makes me feel stronger because I have more hope that someday there will be a cure that will keep me going,” Nicole says.
The Cycle for Survival community will never stop fighting until all people with cancer have effective treatment options. Registration for the 2021 Cycle for Survival season opens in December, and the movement will be celebrating its 15th year. There will be many exciting new ways people can get involved, including Cycle for Survival’s first-ever virtual event experience. To learn more, visit www.cycleforsurvival.org.
About Cycle for Survival
JOIN THE BATTLE. Cycle for Survival is the movement to beat rare cancers. Since 2007, Cycle for Survival has raised over $260 million to fund pioneering rare cancer research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which owns and operates Cycle for Survival. 100 percent of every donation funds rare cancer research. About half of all people with cancer are fighting a rare cancer, and they often face limited or no treatment options. Together with the movement’s founding partner, Equinox, Cycle for Survival has supported innovative clinical trials, research studies and major scientific initiatives. For research updates and additional information, visit https://www.cycleforsurvival.org and follow Cycle for Survival on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK)
As the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, Memorial Sloan Kettering has devoted more than 135 years to exceptional patient care, influential educational programs and innovative research to discover more effective strategies to prevent, control and, ultimately, cure cancer. MSK is home to more than 20,000 physicians, scientists, nurses and staff united by a relentless dedication to conquering cancer. Today, we are one of 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, with state-of-the-art science and technology supporting groundbreaking clinical studies, personalized treatment, and compassionate care for our patients. We also train the next generation of clinical and scientific leaders in oncology through our continually evolving educational programs, here and around the world. Year after year, we are ranked among the top two cancer hospitals in the country, consistently recognized for our expertise in adult and pediatric oncology specialties. www.mskcc.org.
IT’S NOT FITNESS. IT’S LIFE: Founded in 1991, Equinox was built on the notion that fitness can empower a life well-lived and foster a strong community of high-performance individuals. Nearly 30 years later, Equinox continues to lead and disrupt the category it singularly defined, operating over 100 full-service Clubs globally across major US cities including New York, LA, Miami and San Francisco as well as London, Toronto and Vancouver, each featuring bespoke design in an unparalleled luxury environment. Grounded in the core tenets of Movement, Nutrition and Regeneration and backed by a Health Advisory Board of industry-leading experts across these disciplines, the company offers an integrated membership model Equinox+, which fuses the digital and physical Equinox experiences. The dynamic membership builds upon the touted in-club offering with the launch of virtual personal training and yoga, nationwide outdoor fitness clubs Equinox+ In The Wild, The Daily Check-In, and Variis, a first-of-its-kind multi-brand digital platform offering premium fitness content across its portfolio of brands. In July 2019, Equinox unveiled Equinox Hotels as a true culmination of its lifestyle brand promise, redefining the luxury hospitality experience to be a seamless extension of high-performance living. For more information, visit www.equinox.com.