24 Foundation’s executive director Mallory Walsh, a native Wisconsinite and brand new mom, is a driven former division 1 athlete who brings her zeal for motivating, supporting and engaging with communities to the organization. But a breast cancer diagnosis of her own mom, also means that Mallory carries a sensitive heart with her for others walking the same path as her family.
2 years after moving to Charlotte, Mallory and her husband Brian were feeling content in the new house they’d built and excited to begin a family of their own. “I’ll never forget where we were sitting. I was just so excited to talk to my mom about my new home, and she called and said, ‘I want you to know that I’ve been to the doctor, and I have breast cancer.’”
Mallory is emotional as she reflects on that initial phone call with her beloved mom. Her thoughts immediately flew to her dad and brother and how they were coping with the same news. “One of the most difficult things is not to be able to hug someone in that moment. I listened more than anything because there isn’t much else you can do on the other end of the phone.” As she hung up the phone, Mallory began praying.
She also began researching and advocating for her mom’s care. “24 Foundation’s vast network has been so helpful to me. Because my mom is in Wisconsin, where we don’t have an event… yet… I needed to tap into that network and make sure she had access to the unmatched doctors and services available through our Foundation.” After teleconferencing with experts at Levine Cancer Institute, Mallory also connected her mom with a guidebook from 24 Foundation’s national beneficiary LIVESTRONG. “All of those assets helped us understand her cancer in layman’s terms, gain insight, and helped determine next steps.”At every event Mallory proudly dons her In Honor Of badge that says “MOM,” with a heart for the “O.” She always keeps the same badge in her office, and that signature “MOM” is displayed on our office’s Dedication Wall. “Every day, behind all the layers of tasks and to-do items, I honor my mom by ensuring that other moms out there have as positive an experience, post-diagnosis, as possible! It breaks my heart to think of other moms and cancer survivors who don’t have the access to the types of services that 24 Foundation provides through our beneficiaries.”
To Mallory, funding survivorship programs is crucial. “Behind every diagnosis is a person… a mom, a girlfriend, an uncle, a best friend. Growing up, I always thought my mom was invincible. Survivorship is an opportunity for them to thrive beyond this momentary chapter in their lives and write the rest of the book ahead.”It is with so much gratitude that we can share that Mallory’s mom has been cancer free for over a year now. “I am so proud of my mom and the women and men like her who continue to push through and not let their pain, or the sores or the embarrassment of hair loss effect their every day. For my mom, I never knew the difficulty she was having each day because she put on a smile and positive attitude, inspiring me and those around her.”