This year, the BT5K Your Way run/walk event holds greater sentiment for Elizabeth and her mom, Heather. This past December, Elizabeth was diagnosed with a second brain tumor, a glioblastoma.
This virtual event has rallied their friends and family from across the country and raised funds in creative ways like selling handmade knit hats and custom t-shirts. Learn how Elizabeth and Heather continue to bring together their community in support of brain tumor research and patient programs.
Discovering a Brain Tumor While Studying Aboard
Six years ago, just minutes after landing in Denmark for a college semester abroad, my daughter Elizabeth (Liz) experienced a seizure. Her tumor was diagnosed by local medical providers, and we flew her back home to Indiana. The following month, she had an awake craniotomy on Valentine’s Day. But this past December, Elizabeth’s grade two tumor radically changed into grade four glioblastoma in which doctors found cancer cells in her spinal fluid. She endured six weeks of radiation in the brain and spine, and several months of chemotherapy.
Rallying Friends, Families and their Community
Between the two brain tumor diagnoses, I was looking for a support group, answers to our many questions and found the ABTA. After Elizabeth’s first brain surgery, our small group, including Elizabeth, her uncle, her aunt, and I participated in our first ABTA BT5K in Chicago. We were blown away by the event. It was full of camaraderie, participants sharing stories and experiences and support for each other.
Since then, we have participated in the ABTA BT5K with a growing number of family and friends every year. Since graduating from college, our team, Liz’s Unexpected Journey, has participated in the ABTA BT5K in Columbus, Ohio. Elizabeth has also served on the planning committee and even gave the survivor speech at the event.
BT5K Your Way Brings Significance and Meaning
This year’s 5K is even more sentimental as we understand the importance of research and advances in science. As an organization, we trust the ABTA as a large percentage of its donations support research. Most importantly, the ABTA connects people and offers support.
We’re proud to say that most of our team are returning supporters. However, we are thrilled to have a few additions this year because the event is virtual and flexible. Several of Elizabeth’s friends have donated to Liz’s Unexpected Journey, particularly through unexpected ways: a friend crafted handmade grey hats, while another created custom t-shirts, which raised over $1,000 in t-shirt sales. Elizabeth has so many people all around the country supporting her journey, and they have really stepped up to help her team raise money for brain tumor research. She wants everyone to know know how much the support means to her.
At the BT5K Your Way event in September, we are planning on wearing the team’s grey custom t-shirts printed with a special design. The design includes a woman with flowing red hair, representing Elizabeth, alongside the phrase “I am brave, resilient and strong.” We’ll also connect with our friends and family through social media, including livestreaming on Facebook and posting our progress using the hashtag #LizsUnexpectedJourney.