Jimmy Fund Walk team sees direct impact of their fundraising

In 2013, while in treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, Tara Shuman walked in her first Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai, completing the 5K route with her 5-year-old son and raising nearly $400.

Nine years later, Team Tara—co-captained since 2014 by Shuman and her close friend Amy Killeen—crossed the finish line at the 2022 Jimmy Fund Walk with 88 members raising more than $72,000, making it one of the event’s largest fundraising teams supporting cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber.

Now, as they celebrate their 10th year and lace up for 2023, members of Team Tara are learning just how far their funds go.

While many Walk teams raise flexible funds to be deployed across the Institute where they are needed most, Team Tara chooses to designate their dollars each year to a specific area of cancer research, having supported the areas of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and metastatic colon cancer research over its 10-year run. In 2022, given the continued underfunding of lung cancer research, Team Tara chose to support the work of Narjust Florez (Duma), MD.

Dr. Florez is a thoracic medical oncologist at Dana-Farber specializing in lung cancer; more particularly, she specializes in targeted therapy for lung cancer and the care of women with lung cancer, including their unique aspects of cancer survivorship. Apart from her clinical interests and born from her own experience of bias and isolation as a young Latina in medicine, Florez is also a leading researcher in cancer health disparities, among both patients and the professionals who care for them. She serves as the associate director of the Cancer Care Equity Program at Dana-Farber, and in 2022 became the first Latina to hold an associate editor position in oncology as the associate editor for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the journal JAMA Oncology.

Given her focus on equity in medicine, Florez is dedicated to researching lung cancer and social justice issues in medicine and medical education. Her team—referred to as the Florez laboratory (formerly Duma laboratory)—aims to drive systematic change by creating a welcoming environment for international medical graduates and medical trainees from historically underrepresented groups in medicine while improving the care of vulnerable populations.

Recently, Team Tara Co-Captains Tara Shuman and Amy Killeen had the chance to learn about the important work their team is supporting. With funds from Team Tara, Florez has been able to explore treatment options for patients with small and non-small cell lung cancer, while at the same time continuing to research, and drive progress to solve, gender and racial inequalities in cancer care, particularly the effects of gender bias in the diagnosis of young women with lung cancer.

Additionally, Team Tara funds have afforded Florez and her team opportunities to present research findings at national and international conferences, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and the World Conference of Lung Cancer. Works have been published in journals such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature, Cancer Cell, JAMA Oncology, Lancet Oncology, and Journal of the National Cancer Institute, among many others. These pieces cover a range of topics, but many focus on addressing the causes of disparities in cancer care for historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups and improving the care of women with lung cancer.

Inspired and motivated by the work, Shuman and Killeen have decided to designate funding again to Florez and her research for the 2023 Jimmy Fund Walk season. Florez is excited to have Team Tara continue supporting her work, and all of Team Tara is happy to continue the partnership.

As of November 2022, Team Tara has raised more than $1.3 million for Dana-Farber through the Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk. You can make an impact, too, by starting your own team or joining an existing group like Team Tara. Walk with us together against cancer on October 1 to support lifesaving research and care at Dana-Farber. Visit JimmyFundWalk.org for more information.

Be a part of our Jimmy Fund community by joining 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.