ABTA

The Race to Cure Brain Cancer

As a 10-time triathlete, Brandon Starkoff understands the grueling, even painful training required to compete. Pushing the body to its limit is necessary to improve times, whether that pushing means running through slushy, wet snow or diving into the icy cold waters of Lake Michigan.

Likewise, this American Brain Tumor Association board member and CEO of a marketing technology consultancy, understands the need to accelerate the pace of fundraising “towards better treatment and even prevention” of this baffling disease that devastates so many lives.

Diagnosed back in 2011 when he had a seizure and woke to five paramedics working over him, Brandon underwent six weeks of radiation and six months of chemotherapy following the discovery of a brain tumor at age 35. But it wasn’t until a colleague was diagnosed a year after he returned to work with a more serious diagnosis that he decided he needed to get involved and give back.

“She inspired me to lean in to this cause and make a difference. There are just too many unanswered questions.”

His caregivers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago gave him some American Brain Tumor Association pamphlets, which motivated him to participate in the annual BT5K Breakthrough for Brain Tumors Run & Walk fundraising event and connected with several people who encouraged him to host his own event. The first year, he was able to raise over $50,000 and the five-year total stands at about a quarter of a million dollars.

Brandon found the American Brain Tumor Association to be resourceful, supportive and caring. “It was evident from the start that they were on a mission to lead the effort towards better care for all of those involved in the community,” he says. “Their spirit was encouraging and the volunteers clearly had a passion for supporting patients and their families as they navigated through this difficult journey.”

Brain cancer is a growing epidemic that does not have a “one size fits all solution.” He says it is impacting society at a rate that is taking more of a toll on the younger generation than any other form of cancer.

“With ABTA’s connection to CBTRUS (Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States) and being the only organization connecting top-notch tumor researchers across the country, the ground work is built to advance industry-leading work that is already addressing the complexities of brain tumor diagnoses, treatment and care.”

The fact that the organization brings its researchers together annually to share what they have discovered, might also land that “big idea” that results in significant progress, Brandon adds. “It is an opportunity to put some pieces together.”

He encourages anyone – from caregivers to patients – to support the cause in any way they can. “I encourage you to lean in and learn more about the American Brain Tumor Association. We are very encouraged about our future and we need your support to increase our ability to address the growing list of questions.”


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