By Sarah Garcia
Each year, Miles for Moffitt brings together current patients, survivors, families, friends, coworkers and others united by one goal: to help Moffitt carry on its mission to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. Each team or participant has their own why — the inspiration behind their drive to participate.
For Dawn Provenzano, Miles for Moffitt is not just a run. It's a way to give back with the hope of improving the outcome for patients like her late husband, Tony. As the primary caregiver for her husband, Provenzano says it wouldn't have been possible without the help and support from the community. Now she's rallying with that community as we come together to take steps toward a world without cancer. Read the "Why" behind the creation of her Miles for Moffitt team, Tony Strong.
What's Your Why
I just recently lost my husband of 17 years to stage 4 stomach cancer on June 2, 2019. Tony was the strongest person I will ever know. He was a loving husband and devoted father of two young boys, as well as a loving brother and son.
Tony was the poster boy for perfect health.
One day in November he was having stomach pains and we discovered this horrible disease (stage 4 stomach cancer) that had already started to consume his body. It seemed like it just came out of nowhere. No one understood what type of cancer it was or even how to treat it. It was very fast and it was very aggressive. We had seen a few different doctors that really did not know what to do!
I reached out to Moffitt and they got us in immediately. My husband had such a rare form of cancer that he was even the first one that they had seen. But! They did not turn us away.
They did and tried everything they could possibly do, from multiple types of chemotherapy to a clinical trial for immunotherapy. It was such a scary and confusing time that flipped our entire world upside down.
In his last days when they decided to call in hospice, Tony refused to go into a hospice center. He wanted to be at home with his family. We didn't have much time, but his nurses and doctors went out of their way to make sure that he got his final wish. Within just two days, they were able to transform our bedroom into a hospital room. They took over and had everything that we would need delivered to our home — from oxygen to an actual hospital bed. They even fought to make arrangements for ambulance transport home.
I was so impressed with the amount of care and support that we received, even from people in the community around us.
I was my husband's only caregiver. Toward the end, I was not able to work for months or even leave my house, because he needed me around the clock. If it were not for all of the support from the community (some of which I do not even know, I would not have been able to be there for my husband. We would have lost everything.
I really wanted to try to find a way to give back and pay it forward. There is no way I will ever be able to come up with enough donations to repay everyone for their generosity. So when I found out about Miles for Moffitt, I just knew that is what he would have wanted me to do. Although we did not have a great outcome, I want to be able to help ensure someone else will. I want to teach our children what it means to be able to help others unconditionally so that they get the same type of care and support we received.