When you include the American Institute for Cancer Research in your estate plans, you make a major difference in the fight against cancer.

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40 Years of Progress: Transforming Cancer. Saving Lives.

The AICR Lifestyle & Cancer Symposium addresses the most current and consequential issues regarding diet, obesity, physical activity and cancer.

The Annual AICR Research Conference is the most authoritative source for information on diet, obesity, physical activity and cancer.

Cancer Update Program – unifying research on nutrition, physical activity and cancer.

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Read real-life accounts of how AICR is changing lives through cancer prevention and survivorship.

We bring a detailed policy framework to our advocacy efforts, and provide lawmakers with the scientific evidence they need to achieve our objectives.

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Stories of Impact

Emily Williams' Story: Breast Cancer Survivor Gives Birth, Then Runs Marathon

Read the empowering story of one woman’s inspirational cancer fundraising journey

Emily Williams celebrated her 40th birthday in March 2022, and underwent her first routine mammogram. The results came back clear. In May, she gleefully learned she was pregnant with her second child, after seven rounds of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

So, you can imagine the shock and concern when Emily self-detected a lump in her breast in June 2022, just a few months after her mammogram. Shockingly, a biopsy led to the diagnosis of stage IIB breast cancer.

“I went from having a clear mammogram in March to a lump in June and then a mastectomy in early August,” says Emily. “They found that the tumor was almost 5 cm when they removed it surgically. Things can change in a matter of months, so it’s important to self-check regularly and to make sure to visit a doctor if there are any irregularities.”

The Marathon Path

Typically, cancer treatment begins with chemotherapy. However, Emily was approaching the second trimester of her pregnancy, so she began with a single mastectomy instead. After surgery, she began chemotherapy.

“Cancer treatments have really evolved,” says Emily. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, my biggest fear was that I was going to lose my baby that we fought so hard to get through IVF. My oncologist alleviated that fear and told me that there’s been research on chemo and the impact on the fetus and that certain chemo treatments are considered safe during pregnancy.”

Emily delivered a healthy baby girl just five days after wrapping up her chemo. “Despite being pregnant with our baby during all of my chemo, she is completely healthy,” says Emily. “We had extra checks done by the pediatricians, and she has been meeting or exceeding all her milestones. She is also an extremely happy baby and smiles all the time . . . she’s just incredible!”

After realizing her dream of delivering a child post-chemo, Emily decided to set a new goal for herself: running the London Marathon. She says planning to run the marathon kept her feeling encouraged and was a great way to celebrate the end of active cancer treatments; the marathon was scheduled for three weeks after she finished radiation.

An experienced runner with eight marathons under her belt, Emily joined TeamAICR, a fundraising team of sports enthusiasts from across the US. By joining TeamAICR, Emily knew she wasn’t just running a race; each step she ran was moving toward a cancer-free future by raising funds for cancer research.

AICR advocates for healthy lifestyles before, during and after cancer, and physical activity is an important part of the plan. We recommend at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity to live a healthy lifestyle. Broken down, this is 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. We also recommend a balanced eating pattern using the New American Plate as a model. If you’d like some help on building your healthy lifestyle, start with AICR’s 10-week interactive program, the Healthy10 Challenge.

Fundraising for AICR

Emily chose to fundraise for AICR to share the message about the importance of physical activity during and after treatment. And she was quite successful – generating over $6,500 in support of cancer research. Emily wholeheartedly believes in AICR’s mission because she has lived it. Her medical oncologist encouraged physical activity to help minimize common side effects of chemo, and it certainly helped.

“I stayed active all through my cancer treatments and pregnancy, right up to the day my water broke,” says Emily. “Activity helped to minimize the common side effects of chemo and radiation as well as made my recovery time from surgeries (including a c-section, mastectomy and hysterectomy from being BRCA2+) a lot easier and faster.”

She says she felt stronger because she stayed active, and credits physical activity with stress reduction, boosting mental wellbeing and making her more confident in her own abilities and strength.

“I also think physical activity forces you to hydrate more, which is extremely beneficial while going through chemo,” explains Emily. “Being surrounded by a positive and supportive community kept me motivated and positive as well.”

Emily is proud to have raised as much money as she did and is hopeful that others will benefit from the research that she has helped fund.

Strong Support System

Emily says her husband was an amazing support system during treatments. He accompanied her to doctor and chemo appointments and helped fit her into her cold cap (a hat-like device that helps reduce hair loss during chemo), which she credits with creating some normalcy with her toddler. “I didn’t look different as I only lost about 40% of my hair as a result of the cold cap,” says Emily.

In addition to her husband, she relied on support from her mother during some chemo infusions and surgery. “My mother is a 10-year cancer survivor herself, so she could empathize with how I was feeling during treatments,” explains Emily.

After diagnosis but before chemo, Emily joined a local bootcamp with her husband. As it turns out, the bootcamp was also an extremely supportive community, which helped her stay active during treatment.

“At bootcamp, I was able to meet fellow breast cancer survivors. I had workout friends checking in on me daily and cheering me on, and the trainers would give me pregnancy modifications to the workouts,” says Emily. “When they heard that I was fundraising for AICR to go to the London Marathon, they even hosted a charity class for me where I was able to raise over $2,000.”

Motivation Is Empowering

Emily credits her now 4-year-old daughter and 5-month-old baby girl with keeping her motivated. “I will do what I need to give myself the best possible outcome and to fight to be here and watch them grow up,” says Emily.

“During my cancer journey and then running the London Marathon, I would always think about getting to the finish line,” says Emily. “But as I sit back and reflect on the last year, it was really the journey to the finish line that had the biggest impact. It was during this time that I got to see how much compassion and just how amazing people are in this world. I learned so much about myself and my abilities and strength.”

Emily, we are so proud of you and are glad to have you on TeamAICR. Your determination and spirit are our motivation to keep fundraising and help other people learn about healthy lifestyles to prevent cancer and support survivorship. To donate and support Emily and TeamAICR, click here.

More Stories of Impact

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If you share our passion for cancer prevention and quality survivorship, we would love to hear from you. Whatever your experience has been — whether you are a patient, caregiver, or loved one — AICR would be happy to add your story to this tapestry.

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