By Robin Beaudoin. Photo by Chris Hope
Dana Sampietro, 47
“On January 4, 2014, I was diagnosed as NED (no evidence of disease), my new best friend. I am truly blessed and I know that without the love/support of my family and friends I would not be a SURVIVOR!”
In 2013, bald, fatigued, and exhausted, Memphis Police Major Dana Sampietro finished the Teal for a Cure race with a team of more than 100. With her best friend and team founder, Emily Owens, racing just ahead, Sampietro could not stop, feeling as she may let her compatriots down.
An unquenchable thirst for love and life helped her finish that race, raising $3,000 for ovarian cancer awareness. That same thirst has led her safely through treatment and into remission as an ovarian cancer survivor.
Sampietro gained weight in her abdominal region and experienced back pain, heartburn, and cramping — symptoms that mimic premenopausal symptoms — after training for the St. Jude Half Marathon, so she scheduled an appointment with her doctor.
A cat scan for an intestinal blockage showed a tumor on each ovary. OB/GYN Dr. Heather Chauhan connected with Dr. Todd Tillmanns regarding treatment options for Sampietro after an ultrasound revealed growing tumors and a misshapen left ovary.
Sampietro was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, and had both her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed before starting chemotherapy.
Over 25 weeks of different types of chemotherapy were administered. As soon as Sampietro recovered from one treatment, it was time for another round.
I have had a very competitive nature ever since I was little. I just knew that I had to fight. My inspiration was my son, my family, and my friends. I have to be the survivor for them. I want to inspire other people, and make them keep on fighting. When I was younger, Desi Owens was four years ahead of me, and was one of my personal heroes. She went on to play basketball and volleyball at CBU, before becoming a doctor at University of California, Berkeley. I admired her being a leader on and off the court, and the way she made people around her better. She was diagnosed around the same time I was, and died in August of 2013. That just broke my heart. I thought if my childhood hero can die, what am I going to do?
I love to run. I love to play basketball. I went to UT-Martin on volleyball scholarship. I’m in the process of becoming a volunteer for the WINGS Cancer Foundation at the West Clinic so I can help someone else who’s going through chemotherapy. Nobody should fight alone.
PASSIONATE FOR A CURE:
I am gearing up for the 2014 OCAF Teal for a Cure 5K on September 20th, and currently seeking more members to be a part of SAMPIETRO’S SQUAD to help raise awareness and funds for this most terminal of all gynecological cancers. We have a goal to raise over $5,000 this year. Please take a minute to visit their website, OCAFoundation.org.
I’m working toward progressing in rank within the Memphis Police Department to Lieutenant Colonel. I’m also looking at getting my Master’s degree. After I retire, I would love to teach history and move closer to my son in Florida.
The 7th Annual Teal for Cure 5k is September 20, at Cancer Survivors Park. To Register go to s2fevents.com.