Allison and Jennifer Inho are two young adult members of the Jimmy FundRaiser community who were inspired to start a fundraiser of their own after they lost their mother, Angela Marotta Inho, to lung cancer in January 2021. Angela and her family were shocked to hear of her stage IV cancer diagnosis, as she was a generally healthy 55-year-old who led an active lifestyle and had no history of smoking. Allison, Jennifer, and their father, George, fondly remember Angela as a driven individual who never took any day for granted and navigated her three-year cancer battle through many surgeries and rounds of aggressive radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy with strength, courage, and grit.
Though the Inho family has felt an immeasurable void in their lives since Angela passed, they find solace in the fact that she fought as hard as she could and was treated with immense kindness by every member of their Dana-Farber Cancer Institute care team. Mark Awad, MD, PhD, director of Clinical Research in Dana-Farber’s Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology, was Angela’s lead oncologist, guiding her and the family through her treatment plans. “It was certainly a roller coaster ride,” Allison and Jennifer recall. “There were really hard treatment days for her, but we know our mom appreciated and respected the fact that she wasn’t treated like just another patient. She knew that she was a person first and foremost with Dr. Awad and all of the doctors, surgeons, and nurses that she encountered at Dana-Farber, and we felt the same way.”
The Inho family did not realize how prevalent lung cancer was in non-smokers before Angela’s diagnosis. They did not have many friends or family members battling lung cancer, but they quickly realized that there was an entire community of Dana-Farber patients and their caregivers going through similar journeys, and numerous friends, family members, and community members who were ready to help them every step of the way. “People want to help you,” the sisters share. “We learned that it’s okay, and often necessary, to ask for help. Whether it was a shoulder to cry on, getting out of the house for an hour or two to run errands, or a ride up from Connecticut to Dana-Farber, the support system that showed up for our family was tremendous and made us all feel less alone through this journey.”
Jennifer and Allison signed up to host a Jimmy FundRaiser in honor of their mother last winter. Their goal was to host a walk to honor Angela’s legacy, raise awareness for lung cancer and the importance of cancer research, and help to reduce the stigma associated with lung cancer. They wanted to make it clear to all members of their community that lung cancer affects all individuals, not just those who smoke. They chose to direct their walk proceeds to Dr. Awad’s research, with hope that they could do their part to help Dana-Farber create a world where hearing the words “You have lung cancer” is not a death sentence. Dr. Awad and his colleagues are focused on using learnings from the genetics and immune environments of lung tumors to develop new immunotherapy options for lung cancer patients.
After months of planning, over 250 participants arrived at Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut for the first annual Ang’s Warrior Walk for Lung Cancer Awareness in early summer. This event was very successful thanks to the many event sponsors, volunteers, and participants who helped the Inho family raise $33,000 for Dr. Awad’s research. “We learned something that our mom learned early in her cancer journey: that people will show up for you!” Jennifer and Allison share proudly. “When we first had this idea, we thought raising $10K would be an incredible achievement and never expected to triple our goal. What came together in June was tremendous, all thanks to our friends, family, and community members who shared many out-of-the-box fundraising ideas, provided generous donations, and showed up to walk with us. It was mind-blowing to see all that we could accomplish together.”
As first time Jimmy FundRaisers, the Inho sisters learned the importance of not sweating the small stuff. “We knew we couldn’t please everyone, and sometimes tough decisions had to be made, but in the end, we remembered that everyone who was in attendance came out to support our family and this important cause,” they say. “We learned so much in year one, but we were mindful of our limits and made decisions that worked for us and our event. We are so grateful for the valuable support of our Jimmy FundRaiser liaison, Sarah; the Jimmy FundRaiser community; and all of the people who have showed up for us along the way. We can’t wait to get started on next year’s walk to make it even better and continue to keep our mother’s legacy alive!”
Allison, Jennifer, and George are hopeful that the funds that they helped to raise can lead to better preventative care and treatment options for lung cancer patients being treated at Dana-Farber. “Dedicated families, like the Inhos, are going to be the reason that we find cures for all cancers, including lung cancer,” Dr. Awad says. “With their help, my team will continue to uncover advancements that will lead to improved outcomes for our patients. I know that Angela would be so proud of Allison, Jennifer, and George, and I’m confident that their walk will continue to be successful in the future thanks to their undeniable dedication to supporting other patients and families and driving Dana-Farber’s mission forward.”
Support Dana-Farber patients and families, like Chris, 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.