A Lesson in Fighting for Your Life
Take a lesson from Gloria Borges: In 2010, when she was just 28 years old and working as an attorney at an esteemed law firm in Los Angeles, she went to the doctor with what she thought was bad case of food poisoning. After six days in the hospital and an emergency surgery, the doctors told Borges and her family that she had stage IV colon cancer and the chances she would make it to her 30th birthday were nearly non-existent.
A story like hers is shocking and leaves us in disbelief. Surely it cannot be real. Worse—it is too real. Colon cancer kills 50,000 Americans and 150,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.
But cancer could not have picked a more resilient subject in Borges, a Duke University and Stanford Law alum who was living a happy life as a successful professional, mother to a Yorkshire Terrier named Winston, wife to her college sweetheart, and an avid Duke basketball fan. "I worked so hard to be where I was. When I thought cancer was going to take everything I worked so hard for away from me, I thought, 'Oh hell no.'"
As a result, she has spent the past three years finding out everything there was to know about her disease, talking to an army of doctors, specialists, and other cancer patients about not just managing her symptoms and getting through chemo but ultimately kicking cancer in the face.
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The Resilient "GloBo"
Borges' initial reaction to learning her diagnosis was excitement. Extremely competitive by nature, she was exhilarated for the challenge. She immediately changed her life and began a new path to beating her disease.
On January 2, 2011, she ate her last animal-based product (a New York bagel with cream cheese) and since then she's been vegan. She makes sure to prioritize working out to remain strong enough for her treatments—any other way is just not an option. "Getting through treatment is half the battle. Drugs are getting better and better, but you have to be strong enough or healthy enough to get through it," she says. And she's still fighting. In February 2011, she underwent an 11-hour life saving surgery, and she just finished her 45th round of chemo.
But her cancer-kicking efforts did not stop there. Beating her own cancer was not her only goal, so she created The Wunder Project. (Wunder appropriately means "miracle" in German. It's pronounced "voon-dah.") The initiative aims to find the cure for colon cancer. A miracle? Perhaps. Impossible? According to the researchers and Borges' doctor, definitely not.
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The Wunder Project
The campaign launched on February 18 in time for March, which is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, but it's been in the works since last September when Borges caught wind of the National Cancer Institute M.D. Anderson's "Moon Shot" Program, a $3 billion endeavor to improve treatment options and find cures for lung, ovarian, and prostate cancers. "Why wasn't colon cancer on the list?" Borges thought. So she teamed up with her doctor, Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D., to get the ball rolling.
The Wunder Project is not your normal cancer awareness collaboration. The researchers that have joined the effort actually know they can find the cure. "Our campaign is simple but very revolutionary. There's no middle man or no overhead costs. [Donations] go straight to research," Borges says.
The grassroots campaign targets everyone, especially people who have never donated before. Plus it's approach is relatable—a reminder that cancer touches all of us and is not just a big scary word. Just check out this Harlem Shake—Chemo Edition video that Borges and her magic team posted after her last round of chemo. "I try to think of events that I would want to go to if I wasn't directly affected. We like to have a lot of fun," she says.
To help Borges and Dr. Lenz find the cure for colon cancer watch the video below and then click here.