Survivors at our Core: Two Raveis Brokers on Their Cancer Journey

We all know someone in our lives that has been touched by cancer. Unfortunately, most of us have at one time felt the unavoidable and devastating sting that it can leave on our family and friends.  And that’s why we at William Raveis have partnered with Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation to raise funds that go directly to cancer research. Through our Charitable Fund and the second annual Raveis Ride + Walk, we are all in it to fight cancer.

Our family of brokers has experienced cancer firsthand.  Our relationship with the amazing foundation began with Bill and Candy Raveis.  Candy was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and began fighting it immediately.  Together the two, with fierce mind and heart, have tirelessly tried trial after trial and methods of staving off the disease.  Bill was introduced to the Damon Runyon Foundation shortly after Candy’s diagnosis, and they began working with the scientists there on her progress.  Similarly, other success stories were found because of William Raveis’ partnership with Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.  We asked two of our own brokers to share their cancer stories and how they are committed to supporting cancer research through the Raveis Ride + Walk.  Please read on to see a glimpse of two lives that Damon Runyon and Raveis have touched together.  If you can, every bit counts. We are accepting volunteers, donations and registrees for our second annual Raveis Ride + Walk (10/1 in Hingham, MA & 10/16 in Norwalk, CT) at all times! We would love to see you there!

Lori Wallace (right), and her husband, Chris

Lori Wallace (right), and her husband, Chris

Lori Wallace, Sales Manager, New Milford, CT – William Raveis Real Estate

Lori lives in New Milford with her incredibly supportive husband and two black labs.  She has two grown children, one of whom is getting married this fall, and one grandson.

Please tell us the story about your fight against cancer. What type of cancer did you have? How did you discover it and how did you begin to attack it? 

I was diagnosed with two types of breast cancer (sitting right next to each other).  The one that is the problem is the triple negative Breast Cancer that has metastasized to my liver in several legions and my right humorous bone.  At first, the local hospitals were going to remove the breast but I had by accident found that it had spread throughout my body.  When they did biopsies, they found it was triple negative breast cancer to which there is no cure.  They held up their hands and said there was nothing they could offer me.

When did you learn about Damon Runyon cancer research foundation and how did they help you in your fight against cancer?

After feeling utterly defeated, I went to our CEO, Bill Raveis. His partnership with Damon Runyon put me in contact with Yung S. Lie, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer with Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

What was your experience like with Damon Runyon? Who did you interact with? 

Yung. She was like an angel on the other side of the phone.  She put me right in touch with Dr. Sarat Chandarlapaty, a Damon Runyon funded physician and scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC.  He again explained that there is no cure today, but we would be treating this like diabetes and maintain it until hopefully they found a cure.  This relieved a lot.  Still very scary, but lined with some hope.  I worked with him for several months.  He had put me on several trials but none seemed to help until he found an immunotherapy trial that opened up at Colombia Presbyterian with one of his colleagues.  I went on that trial for a while but again it failed.  I had in the meantime formed a great relationship with Dr. Kevin Kalinsky, MD & MS at Columbia University.  Kevin and Sarat were conferring with each other on what to do with me.  I had very little time left.

Were you involved in any clinical trials? How did they help you succeed in your fight against cancer?

Yes, the trials that failed as I previously mentioned but I am going through another one now.  It’s called Intra-arterial Y-90 TheraSphere (commonly, Y-90) treatment for patients like me that have liver metastases and have failed or are intolerant to other treatments. I have one more treatment on the other side of my liver to do.  The left side is done and I feel like they turned the clock back a year.  I am also still on chemotherapy and I will have scans done soon to see the results.  This should buy me a few years so Damon Runyon scientists can find my cure!

How have you given back to the cancer research community since your diagnosis? 

I have tried to give back to Damon Runyon by hosting annual fundraisers; last year we raised over $7,500 and this year my goal is $10,000.  There is an Octoberfest in my town where some of the proceeds are being donated to Damon Runyon.  I even made my 50th birthday party into a little fundraiser as well.

What is your takeaway from your experience with Raveis teaming up with Damon Runyon?

I would not still be alive if it weren’t for the partnership between Raveis and Damon Runyon.  This team has made it possible for me to attend my only daughter’s wedding in September.  It’s the ultimate gift. I’m still here!

Rich Murphy and his family

Rich Murphy and his family

Rich Murphy, Sales Associate, Hingham, MA – William Raveis Real Estate

Rich lives in Marshfield, MA with his wife of 20 years, Lori and three children, Max, 17, Jake, 14 and daughter Mackenzie, 11.

Please tell us the story about your fight against cancer. What type of cancer did you have? How did you discover it and how did you begin to attack it?  I was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma in 2008. It was discovered after months of issues with my nose and breathing. Once it was discovered, my oncologist Dr. Stephen Hodi from Dana Farber wanted it removed surgically. The procedure was performed by Dr. Linn from Massachusetts Eye and Ear. It was a serious operation that lasted over 6 hours. After surgery I did narrow beam radiation to the area 5 days a week for 10 weeks.

Were you involved in any clinical trials? How did they help you succeed in your fight against cancer? I have been involved with 2 separate clinical trials, a few of them sponsored by Damon Runyon. One was a Bristol-Meyers-Squibb drug that was called Ipilimumab (trade name Yervoy), a monoclonal antibody that works to activate the immune system by targeting CTLA-4, a protein receptor that downregulates the immune system. The other was a Merck drug called MK-3475. Both of these drugs are classified as immunotherapy. The combination therapy saved my life. At one point my doctors told me to get my affairs in order because I had 15-18 tumors that they couldn’t control. After taking both drugs with serious side effects, my tumors started to disappear.

How have you given back to the cancer research community since your diagnosis? My wife and I started raising money for Dana Farber through grassroots efforts doing small triathlons in our area with friends and family. My wife ran the Boston Marathon for Dana Farber. During that time our team ‘Tri-ing for a Cure’ raised over $150,000 for cancer research. In 2015 and 2016, I rode the Pan-Mass Challenge; my team of local riders from my town raised an additional $150,000 in two years. I have been published in many articles in the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post and many trade publications discussing my cancer story. I have also spoke publicly for the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network to call for more government funding.

What is your takeaway from your experience with Raveis teaming up with Damon Runyon? It was great meeting people and the scientists from Damon Runyon during last year’s Ride + Walk event. I’m looking forward to it again.

 

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