Mary Pang: "My Small Contribution To Speed A Brain Cancer Cure"

Mary Pang is humble - she was one of our top fundraisers in ABC2's 2013 Race Towards A Cure - Marine Corps Marathon!  In this blog post, Mary shares stories from her MCM experience and why supporting the work of ABC2 is important to her. Interested in running the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon or MCM10K?  Click here to register.

By Mary Pang

Last year at about this time, our world was rocked.  My husband Jerry was experiencing headaches and fatigue for approximately two months that went undiagnosed.

Saturday morning, May 18, we were driving home from San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge following a brain scan when we received a telephone call. Our 9 year old son was in the back seat when the message came through the radio phone that a large tumor had been discovered in Jerry's brain, we were instructed to turn around immediately and go back to the emergency room.  Under the difficult circumstances, we were all pretty calm, though our son was frightened.

The following day, following a CT scan, the doctors diagnosed a primary tumor in his lung that metastasized to his brain and he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  Within a period of a few days, the outstanding team of doctors at the Stanford Medical Center came up with a game plan.

The following week Jerry had brain surgery and the tumor was successfully removed. The surgery was such a success, he was dismissed from the ICU a little more than 24 hours following surgery! In fact, the dismissal was held up because staff in the ICU were unfamiliar with discharging a patient! Less than two weeks later, he underwent the removal of three lesions in his brain with the use of the “Cyberknife.”  The following day he started a chemotherapy drug to treat the lung tumors.  

While our world was turned upside down for a couple of months, an endless line of friends and family supported us to no end! It’s been approximately 50 weeks since the event took place and my husband is still alive.

My husband manages a private athletic club in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. Simultaneous to his unfortunate events, the older brother of a tennis scholarship recipient at the club was also diagnosed with a brain tumor. Between emails, telephone calls and visits, we became good friends with Steven's family.  They informed us that they were going to Washington, DC to run in the Marine Corps Marathon later in October of last year.  

Knowing that ABC2 was a part of the race, and a 10K event was also planned, I decided to run on behalf of “Team Steven.”  When I decided to run, my husband and son decided they had to attend to support me. We also discovered, what a small world it is as the ABC2 organization was founded on behalf of the late Dan Case, a member of the club my husband managed in San Francisco.  Jerry cited that Dan was a brilliant man who was taken from us far too soon.

The fundraising efforts just snow balled! The staff at ABC2 were great at helping us and guiding us. We had a base of three clubs that my husband managed and I also managed a private club. Word got out, emails started, we posted memos on our Caringbridge site and so many of our family and friends stepped up to the plate so generously. It was such an outpouring of emotions and love that we truly felt. 

With great sadness, young Steven passed away about two weeks prior to the race.  After a brief deliberation, “Team Steven” was still intact, his Aunt, Uncle, brothers and cousins ran with me, while his Grandmother, and parents cheered with my husband and my son.

Thanks to the generosity of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul, our entire group had an awesome tour of the Capital. We also had a great time visiting the Capital sites, meeting Jerry’s cousins and the ABC2 team at a luncheon the day before the race.

I know this was an experience that our family will not forget, particularly running past the Iwo Jima Memorial at the finish line was inspirational; but this was more than running a 10K or a marathon, it was our small way of contributing to a cause that will help fight and find a cure for brain cancer.

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