New Yorker finds special connection with the Jimmy Fund and Red Sox
Despite being a lifelong New Yorker, Fenway Park and the Red Sox now hold a special place in Lamar Valentina’s heart.
Originally diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2019, Lamar, a non-smoker, sought a second opinion at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, at the recommendation of his ex-wife, who lives in Boston and works in health care. Lamar’s now-oncologist, Bradley McGregor, MD, identified the proper diagnosis: stage IV renal medullary carcinoma, a rare type of kidney cancer that had spread to Lamar’s lungs and a couple other places in his body.
“I entered Dana-Farber with a very unfavorable prognosis, in excruciating pain and on the verge of losing hope,” Lamar recalls. “But Dr. McGregor and I quickly bonded over our Air Force experience; he was a veteran who trained medical staff in Afghanistan, and I’m still in the Air Force as a recruiter today, having previously served in Baghdad and Kabul. Dr. McGregor treated me like family and I trusted him and the rest of the care team wholeheartedly.”
Lamar made many trips to Boston to receive chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, which took a lot out of him—body and mind—but did the trick to treat his cancer. One of his most memorable trips to Boston was in August 2021, for the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance, where, now feeling well, he shared his story on-air to inspire donations and encourage other patients.
“Witnessing first-hand the strength of other patients when I was in treatment, it inspired me and reignited the fight in me to not give up or give in,” he says. “Sharing my story through the Jimmy Fund meant—and still means—the world to me, and hopefully one day I can be someone else’s survival guide or beacon of hope. It gives me purpose others often go their entire life looking for.”
During the 2021 Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Lamar’s first visit to Fenway Park, he was given the opportunity to visit the Green Monster with Dr. McGregor, and even take the field to throw out the first pitch—a rarity for a Yankees fan. Later, in the off season, Lamar had the opportunity to participate in the Red Sox Fantasy Camp, traveling to Florida to take the field with Red Sox legends.
“These experiences have helped me feel like I’ve got my life back and have given me a chance to share my story,” Lamar says.
“Everyone at Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund have always been so kind, warm, and welcoming,” he adds. “As much as I’ve dreaded receiving treatment, I feel filled with hope every time I go into Dana-Farber.”
Support patients like Lamar and make a donation to the 2022 WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance, returning to Fenway Park on August 23 and 24 to celebrate its 20th year. Your gift will support The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.