Eleven-year-old Menlo Park resident Katie Guardino knows a lot about cancer. She has grown up with a mom who fights breast cancer for a living.
Katie's mother, Stanford oncologist Dr. Ellie Guardino, helps patients extend their lives through advanced treatments and breast cancer clinical trials. She fights for the cure in her lab, where she and other specialists develop vaccines to target specific immunological gene therapies for patients.
One of her specialties is helping young breast cancer patients with future fertility. Dr. Guardino wants every woman to have the chance to experience parenthood as she has with Katie and her two brothers.
She has helped patients successfully harvest their eggs and make embryos before they start chemotherapy and radiation so they have the option of becoming moms in the future. Many of Dr. Guardino's young patients have been blessed with children after their breast cancer fight.
Katie has written hundreds of letters to cheer up her mom's patients over the years, and has helped her mom on the weekends, visiting patients and helping out in her mom's lab.
Nothing could have been more of a surprise in 2008 to Katie or her family when her mom received her own diagnosis of Stage 3 melanoma.
Katie helped care for her mom as she struggled through her cancer treatments.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, Katie and her mom walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in San Francisco, a 5K walk and run to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment. About 7,000 people participated and Katie was the No. 1 fundraiser.
Katie sent out letters to friends, family members and teachers with a picture of her and her mom, and received more than $25,000 in donations in support of her walk. The donations continue to roll in.
Katie and her mom were dressed in pink at Sunday's walk, walking hand in hand. Katie's experience writing all those letters to patients prepared her for the individual thank you notes she has written to each and every donor.
"Adults always tell kids that life is not fair," Katie wrote. "I believe that now. My Mom sees patients all day, works in her lab on the weekends, writes grant requests at night after she tucks me and my brothers in bed, and SHE gets cancer??! I hope the money I raised will help my Mom and her patients through the Race for the Cure."
Go to komensf.org for more information. To contribute to Katie's drive, make out the checks to the Komen Foundation, and mail them to Katie Guardino c/o Dr. Ellie Guardino, Stanford Cancer Center, 875 Blake Wilbur Blvd., Stanford, CA 94305. Or go online to is.gd/fw8KV.