Home Women’s Cancer Heather Walker finds her purpose in cancer fight

Heather Walker finds her purpose in cancer fight

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Steven Walker overlooks his wife Heather’s outdoor patio table in an idyllic backyard. In his eyes, love, praise, concern and empathy are equal.

Heatherwalker, born and raised in Manchester, has lived in Marblehead for almost 20 years, is the mother of two young daughters, and is the vice president of public relations for the Boston Celtics. Glioblastoma, to be exact, is a rare and aggressive form of the disease.

Since being diagnosed 10 months ago, undergoing surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, and now taking NeoVax as part of the first trial of the fight against illness, Walker, 51, has only overcome his cancer. Not have fulfilled her mission. , But help end it for all glioblastoma patients.

“Honestly, I don’t change what I’m experiencing for the world,” she said. “I don’t feel sorry for myself. I want to find a cure for this cancer and move forward with Dr. Arnout (Omar) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dr. (David) Riadon at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I think.

“I really believe this can cure cancer.”

“I always knew she was strong,” added her husband, the second youngest of seven siblings, and a former member of the Coast Guard. this strong. ”

However, Walker refuses to dominate her in this terrible sequence of situations. With her positive attitude and positive approach, she says, “I have more goals than ever before,” and sticks to her beliefs.

Her outlook and self-confidence affect virtually everyone who knows her: Manchester, Marblehead, and her family and friends since then. Her doctor; and many of the people she has made friends with throughout the National Basketball Association, and many others she met during this Odyssey.

“Heather showed amazing elasticity and tenacity during her fight,” said Riadon, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology. “She’s commitment to helping others while enduring her own very challenging battles is inspiring.”

She has been supported by the endless support of her best friend Wendy Semonian Epitch. Epitch, who lost her sister to her cancer and was involved in Dana-Farber, was there at every stage for Walker, even though she lived in Sherborne for an hour.

“The trial she is doing, if it can save her life, then Heather will save the lives of hundreds of others,” Epitch said.

“Wendy is a great person,” Walker said. “The loss of her sister motivated her to help me in my fight.”

Heather Mikarowski grew up on Harold Street in Manchester with his brothers Roger and Ryan. She always loved to be active. She ran around the neighborhood, played basketball with her brother and father, rode a boat, and did something to keep her busy. She ran cross-country, played national team basketball in high school, and was a watchman at Singing Beach for eight years.

Walker, who once continued college basketball in North Adams, said she continues to be an excellent free-throw shooter to this day. She talks about when the team was covered in snow during a Celtics practice in Waltham in the late 2000s, and she spent that time with team shooting guard Tony Allen in a free throw contest. Did … and defeated him.

However, leukemia killed her beloved father when she was only 17 years old. Her mother, Barbara, has been in remission from breast cancer for the past eight years. When she was young, one of Walker’s friends lost her sister to glioblastoma.

“Since my dad died, I’ve always thought,’I’m going to be (glioblastoma).’ It was so terrible that you never wanted it, so it’s always behind my heart. I did, “she said. “It was probably an unreasonable horror, but strangely I’m here dealing with what I thought was the most horrific illness in the world.”

She thought of a headache caused by everyday anxiety in the world of COVID-19, which turned out to be even worse. She was diagnosed with brain cancer after her CAT scan found a mass there, and she underwent surgery to remove the cancer by Dr. Ernout of Brigham and Women on July 10, last year.

“He got it all. I’m very grateful,” she said.

First in her post-surgery ICU, and then recovering, it began to attack her: 5 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, the fact that it might not work, and Walker if she had to I knew it wouldn’t be Something. So she picked up our phone and shared what happened on social media. In a large circle of her friends, business colleagues and peers, it quickly became viral.

“I was very angry thinking about it. How can one family have three different people experience cancer this way?” She said.

“I asked the doctor,” What do you need from me? ” And they said I had to relax. But that’s not the way I roll. Immediately I thought, “Let’s cure this.”

Roger Michalowski took Walkers’ daughter 13-year-old Sammy and 10-year-old Taylor to his parents’ home in Maine while his sister was working on surgery and recovery. He did so to soothe the girl — at the same time he himself was with his brother and her husband.

“It was horrible and really chaotic at first,” said Roger, the captain of the Marblehead High Football Team, whose son Craig was undefeated last fall and won the first Super Bowl Championship at school. “But when she was diagnosed with her father, she didn’t tell anyone, and Heather reached out to her and was visible to her, telling her story there.

“Many people are living their lives and have no purpose or are just confused,” Roger added. “But Heather found her purpose.”

“My blessing of salvation”

“It will be my blessing,” Walker said of her NeoVax trial and immunotherapy program. When she and Stephen go to Dana-Farber to draw blood every two weeks, she gets a key truda that works with the immune system to fight cancer cells. She also takes kepura to prevent seizures.

She gets a chaga mushroom that grows only in cold climates such as Alaska, Maine and New Hampshire, and grinds it with a smoothie using spinach, almond milk, pineapple or berries. A lion’s mane mushroom is also mixed. She does acupuncture, meets a world-renowned healer who specializes in cancer patients, listens to the Calm app every night, and takes melatonin when she has sleep problems.

She still can’t get back on track, so she rides Peloton every day, releasing the highly needed endorphins and feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Her mission is to stay active, and in her own words, “do something that impresses you every day.” In this way, the “Move4Heather” movement — # Move4Heather — was born. People were encouraged to do something to work, talked to a few friends about it, encouraged them to do the same, and donated to the Heatherwalker Foundation for Glioblastoma Research in Dana-Farber. ..

To date, an amazing $ 600,000 has been raised for Dr. Riadon’s research. This includes a significant amount of chunks donated by the Celtics Shamrock Foundation.

Now she is shifting focus to increasing Dr. Arnaout’s funding and exposure to help fight glioblastoma. It starts at 10K for Brigham and Women of the Boston Athletic Association on the last Sunday of the month. From there, it will move on to another funding adventure, Walker said.

“We will continue until it heals,” she said.

Many of the Celtics family’s birthdays were sent to her in July last year, from Danny Ainge, president of the Celtics in ownership and basketball operations, to current and previous players such as Paul Pierce and even Shaquille O’Neal. I sent a good wish to Walker in the video. And in March of this year, she became one of the Celtics’ Heroes Amazon Ass, commended by Green for one of the charities she helped run for the past 16 years and in home games. It was chosen. She happened to come during Celtic’s legendary Kevin Garnett jersey retirement day.

“It was great to meet many players I hadn’t seen in a long time. Two years later (of Covid-19), I was very happy just to hug and reconnect,” she said. I said with tears in my memories. “The Celtics ownership was absolutely amazing to me. Steve Pagliuka, Wyc Grousbeck, (Team President) Rich Gotham, Bob Epstein … I can’t thank them enough.”

It’s not working yet, but Walker has two tickets for each home game with the Celtics’ Golden State Warriors at the upcoming NBA Finals starting tonight.

“Am I going there? I’ll bet!” She emphasized.

“Glioblastoma is the worst, painful, mental and physical game. It’s very cruel to those who have it,” Walker said. “But the people of the griots are also very strong. We’re going to get over it and treat it. It will happen early, not later. You’re just watching.”

To access Heather’s fundraising page http://danafarber.jimmyfund.org/goto/move4heather Or her Facebook page www.facebook.com/M4HGBM. Also, the WalkerFamilyGoFundMe link https://www.gofundme.com/f/heather-walker-family-fund?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer

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