I’ve always been an optimist. It’s just who I am. As a retired kindergarten teacher and grandmother of eight, it comes with the territory. Even after I was diagnosed with a sacral chordoma at the age of 61, I tried to keep a positive outlook and find ways to give back. So when my surgeon asked me if I would be willing to donate some of my tumor tissue to research it seemed like a no-brainer.
What I didn’t realize at the time – nine years ago, now – was how that small act would go on to make a big difference.
While most tissue donors never get to see where their cells end up, I was lucky. It was almost five years to the day after my initial surgery that I learned what happened to my donation. While getting my annual scan at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I was informed that the tumor tissue I donated had been used to develop a new chordoma cell line, one of the first-ever created, and that my cell line was enabling a slew of research discoveries that would not have been possible otherwise. I left the hospital that day feeling so energized my feet were barely touching the floor.
And that was only the beginning.
Thanks to the Chordoma Foundation, my cell line has since been shared with labs around the world, leading to more than a dozen publications in top scientific journals, including key studies revealing that chordoma cells depend on a protein called brachyury for survival.
Building on these discoveries, the Foundation is funding research to create the first drugs capable of targeting brachyury in partnership with world-class scientists from Harvard to Oxford – all while continuing to help families like mine navigate the ins and outs of this diagnosis.
I would not be where I am today without the Chordoma Foundation, and they cannot continue their important work without our support. Better treatments are years, not decades, away, but how fast we get there depends on you.
Join me in unlocking vital progress toward cures by donating today.