Five years ago on my living room floor, my daughter Carly and her friend Michelle, both competitive swimmers, had a push up contest. I had offered the 10-year-old girls $1 per perfect push up, trying to get them to do a little extra work in preparation for an important swim meet. Carly made a couple of dollars while her friend Michelle knocked out 25 perfect push ups, stood up and held out her hand for payment.
Michelle Farnsworth, now 15, is no longer fighting to win push up contests. Instead, she is fighting to win a battle against cancer. In March, Michelle was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). RMS is a rare malignant tumor that arises from a normal skeletal muscle cell. Michelle is receiving the best possible treatment designed by a team of specialists from UMass Memorial’s Children’s Medical Center and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Over the years, UMass Memorial and Dana Farber have teamed up to treat many patients with rare cancers, and we intend to strengthen and formalize that partnership over the next year around the treatment of four rare types of cancer, including RMS. By teaming up with Dana Farber, we will assure that patients like Michelle and others with rare cancers get the best possible treatment for their disease.
While UMass Memorial and Dana Farber team up to treat Michelle’s cancer, her other team mates, led by Worcester Area Masters swimming, will be holding an open water swim this Saturday, August 23 at Fort Pond in Lancaster to raise money toward the cost of Michelle’s care and to bring the swim community together in support of the journey she is on. If you can swim a mile, please consider registering to swim at www.miles4michelle.weebly.com, or, if you prefer dry land like me, you can show your support for the swimmers and Michelle by making a donation to the Miles for Michelle fund.
Michelle is a wonderful kid with a smile as big as Texas and enough positive energy to light up New York, and I know with your help she will beat this horrible disease.
Thanks for taking great care of our patients, one another and my buddy, Michelle.