Deep Bench: Raising awareness and funds for rare forms of cancer

(WZAW) -- Shannon Miller, one of the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnasts in history, is teaming up with a fellow cancer survivor to support Cycle for Survival. The movement is to raise awareness and funds to beat rare cancers.

Rare cancer patients make up about half of all people fighting cancer, but they often have limited to no treatment options, because rare cancer research is drastically underfunded.

Cycle for Survival raised $42 million in 2019, and the initiative is in the middle of their biggest year yet, raising funds through nationwide indoor cycling events. They just celebrated a major milestone, by surpassing $250 million raised since the events began in 2007.

Every single dollar raised goes directly to rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center within six months of the close of fundraising.

In January of 2011, Shannon was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. She had the baseball sized tumor removed successfully and followed up with an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. Now cancer-free, Shannon continues to be a strong advocate for early detection, awareness, research and survivorship.

Miller united with a young woman named Dani Strumeier. At 24 years old, Strumeier was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called germ cell cancer, which can occur in the ovaries, in July of 2017. That’s the same very rare form of cancer that Miller battled.

Shannon and Dani both joined the Deep Bench on Tuesday to talk about fighting back against rare cancers.

“I think it’s that true understanding and a moment where you realize you really aren’t alone in this,” Miller said.

Strumeier said she formed her own Cycle for Survival team shortly after she was diagnosed.

“I felt that meeting her [Miller] was such an inspiration in so many ways, and being able to connect on that intimate level, knowing exactly what the other person had gone through was such an incredible experience for me,” Strumeier said.

For more information, you can visit cycleforsurvival.org.