WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — A cancer diagnosis forever changed the lives of one family, but in an interesting twist, that diagnosis may end up saving many people’s lives.
On Marissa Rashkovan’s 14th birthday, her mother let the family know she had cancer.
Marissa’s mom went through chemotherapy, had two stem cell transplants and was in and out of the hospital for years.
Marissa said their lives changed forever. “Our lives revolved around the disease.”
That’s when something clicked in Marissa. “I decided I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through I wanted to help as many people as I could.”
At 15 years old, she decided she wanted to find a cure for cancer.
After graduating college and earning a Ph.D, she was blown away to hear she had been chosen to be a recipient of the Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric cancer Fellowship award.
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides scientists with the funding and freedom to support their research.
Marissa is now working on finding a cure for a rare type of pediatric leukemia.
The foundation is named after Damon Runyon a journalist who covered the Yankees, smoked all his life and died of throat cancer.
That tie to the Yankees has been with the research foundation since the 1940’s.
One of their biggest fundraisers is “The Runyon 5k.” The course zig-zags through the entire Yankee stadium.
And Marissa will be running the course this year — helping to raise money and awareness of the benefits of research, something that she says helped keep her mother here.
The 11th annual “Runyon 5k” will be held on May 11.
You can still sign up to run and raise money for cancer research.