Jessica Ly's Marathon PosterMy name is Jess Ly and I’m thrilled to take on a new challenge by training for a half-marathon!

My three main goals are:
1. Raise GIST awareness
2. Raise $5,000 – all of which will be donated to the Life Raft Group
3. Have a good time

During the pandemic and in September 2020, I was diagnosed with GIST cancer. The Life Raft Group (LRG) community, my GIST friends, and the cancer community welcomed me with open arms. These people carry a special place in my heart. I look forward to crossing the half-marathon finish line on November 6, 2022.

A little background about me: In 2020, two months after turning 28, I received my official biopsy report. It read, “Malignant GIST” with fast-growing indicators.

Cancer was eating away my body before I realized what was happening to me. Reflecting on the year before — when I was 27 — I recall feeling extremely tired and nauseous, having horrible brain fog, blood in my stool, and a harder time recovering from a workout. My body was literally breaking down. I ignored all these symptoms, innocently thinking I was stressed from work and cancer never crossed my mind.

With my official diagnosis, I began researching and reaching out to other GISTers. They all said the same thing, “find a GIST specialist, figure out your mutation type, and get in touch with the LRG.”

I learned from other GISTers and the LRG community that there are a lot of GIST mutations — Wildtype, SDH deficient, PDGFRA, exon-9, exon-10, exon-11 — just to name a few types. And I learned that while treatment may be effective for one GIST patient, the same treatment may be ineffective for another.

I was told to start chemo to shrink the tumor, but I knew that without mutational testing, there would be a risk that treatment might not work for me. With support from the LRG community and other GISTers, I was able to strongly advocate for myself when speaking with nurses and doctors who did not specialize in GIST cancer.

Fast forward to today — I had surgery, I know my GIST mutation type, and I’m currently on 400mg of Gleevec taken daily. I’m navigating life “post-cancer” and while it hasn’t been easy, I feel grateful to be here.

If you want to see the details of the ‘Run the Bridge’ event that Jessica is participating in, visit this link:

To donate to Jessica’s fundraiser, click the link below: