By Sarah Garcia
Karin Starkweather was a track runner in high school, but hadn’t kept it up after graduation. In an effort to improve her overall health, she began running again in 2009.
Fast forward to 2012, Starkweather was training for her first marathon, when she started to have trouble breathing through her nose. After several primary care visits, unsuccessful interventions and misdiagnoses, she was eventually diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer called Invasive Sinonasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma (SNUC) which affects the nasal cavity and/or paranasal sinuses. Initially having set up a treatment plan at a hospital closer to home, Starkweather made a last-minute decision to visit Moffitt Cancer Center.
She began treatment at Moffitt in March, undergoing seven weeks of radiation and three rounds of chemotherapy. A PET scan in August revealed that she was cancer-free, but not out of the woods, yet. She would need to be continually monitored with regular scans.
In January 2016, Starkweather’s cancer returned. “I knew exactly where I was going, without hesitation.”
Starkweather is currently cancer-free, but continues to visit Moffitt for follow-ups and for monitoring of her non-cancerous brain tumor.
A two-time cancer survivor, Starkweather knows the importance of the lifesaving research taking place at Moffitt. To raise much-needed funds for research, show her support and increase awareness of SNUC, she’s been participating in Miles for Moffitt for the last six years. Starkweather credits Moffitt for saving her life twice, and is working to make sure others get their second or even third chance. “The next life they save could be yours,” she said.
In addition, Starkweather began her own nonprofit to help raise awareness of her rare and aggressive cancer type. Through the creation of SNUC Foundation, Inc., she has hosted multiple events, including an annual bike ride and run, to raise funds for SNUC research and provide support to those battling the disease.
Miles for Moffitt is Moffitt’s annual family run/walk event featuring a 5K, 10K, One-mile fun run and more, with 100% of proceeds benefitting cancer research. The 2019 race is Saturday, Nov. 23 in Downtown Tampa. If you’d like to join Starkweather’s Miles for Moffitt team, click here. To learn more about the race, please visit www.MilesforMoffitt.com.