Marc Gustafson now sits on the 24 Foundation board, watching the daily operations and strategies of the organization, but for Marc, the mission of 24 hits close to home.
Marc was first introduced to 24 Foundation through Charlotte’s 24 Hours of Booty. “Like so many, I had gotten to know Spencer over the years,” he recalls. “I had also been a participant, mentor and coach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program and was looking for something with a more local impact.”
The driving force – and face – behind Marc’s participation in Booty was a close one. “I’ve seen my sister, grandmother, aunt, mother-in-law and mother all go through cancer treatment. Cancer took its toll, in different ways, on each of these women in my life. Anything I can do to improve that for others is motivation enough.”
Marc’s sister Heather was diagnosed with leukemia before Marc was even born. In fact, she was diagnosed while Marc’s mother was pregnant with him. “My entire life has been shaped by cancer. Consciously or subconsciously, I was aware that my parents were making life-saving, life-changing decisions about my sister’s treatment.” He also witnessed the effects of her treatments on her development, as well as the struggles Heather faced with her appearance as a result of radiation and chemotherapy.
Thankfully, Marc has seen treatment make tremendous progress, and now, thanks to the work of 24 Foundation and its beneficiaries, there is a greater focus on survivorship and the quality of life for survivors after treatment. “Not only is it important for people to have a better quality of life after treatment, but in the awful event that cancer returns, survivors need to be in the best possible state so they are ready for the next course of treatment, which is often even more difficult,” Marc acknowledges.
For the Gustafson family, cancer has not been an individual journey. As a sibling of a cancer survivor, he notes that as treatments advance, “there is a greater focus on the effects of those treatment on families. The 24 Foundation community is strong, not just for patients and survivors but also their families. And we’re all just waiting to wrap our arms around everyone.”