Chip and Ali Rosencrans are a fun father-daughter duo. The Rosencrans are from Washington, DC by way of New York, and when asked to describe their family of four, Ali says they are “cool.”
“We had a family nickname and friendship bracelets,” she says laughing. “And my sister and I joked that in senior year, instead of going on spring break, we wanted to be home!”
Quirky as they seem, the Rosencrans are one close-knit family. They loved visiting New York, especially Cindy, Ali’s mom, who was originally from there.
In 2006, Cindy, was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer—a rare type of cancer that affects approximately 10-20% of breast cancer cases. Most breast cancers depend on hormones—such as estrogen—to grow, and several treatments are hormone-based. But Triple Negative is not hormone-dependent, so hormone-based therapies are ineffective.
This means treatment for women with Triple Negative is limited to more aggressive options like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
“My mom was dealt that hand of cards, but she didn’t let it get her down,” Ali says. “She had a great spirit and sense of humor. She walked around completely bald and wasn’t ashamed. She had a fun, great personality. All of her chemo nurses and doctors loved her.”
From the beginning, Cindy’s family and friends were there to support her.
“When she was really sick, she’d get flowers from her dentist,” Ali recalls. “Even the mailman would come by and check on her. Everyone felt connected. They were good friends of my mom’s.”
Her battle would continue for a few years, and despite the hardship, Cindy maintained a remarkable level of enthusiasm and admirable outlook on life.
“She said to me once, ‘In cancer, there’s a silver lining. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, but you have an opportunity to talk to people about what you’re going through, and really strengthen relationships’,” Chip recalls. “You really see how many people care about you and love you when you have to go through something like this.”
Changing the Course of Life
Due to the fact that Triple Negative is rare, there are limited treatments and funding available. There is encouraging research that’s moving towards possible therapies, however, and the Rosencrans connected with a team at Johns Hopkins committed to this research.
Before she passed away in 2009, Cindy used the position she was in to do something for other women who were living with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
“We began this effort [the Cindy Rosencrans Fund] when Cindy was first diagnosed with Triple Negative in 2006,” Chip says. “It was her idea. And she didn’t do it so the doctors would find a cure for her. She did it for the women who’d be diagnosed after her, so they could access treatment options she didn’t have.”
But with the federal government scaling back on research funding, Chip says it’s especially important now for private fundraising efforts to step in.
“So far we’ve raised over $100,000 and it’s been very gratifying,” Chip says. “This is our first effort with Mightycause to reach out to more people to tell them about Triple Negative, and make them aware of the need for funding.”
Running the Course
In their next family endeavor to spread awareness and fundraise for Triple Negative research, Chip and Ali will be running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 28th.
“Neither of us have run in a marathon, and neither of us wanted to do it,” Ali says laughing. “We said, ‘If we do it together, we can use this as a cause to fundraise’.”
Though Ali is in New York and Chip is in DC, they’ve been separately training for the marathon, but have been training together in spirit.
“Ali runs a lot of faster as me,” says Chip. “We’re following the same schedule.”
“But being older, my dad steals my thunder!” Ali says laughing.
Their goal is to finish the marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
“We’re undertaking this effort in Cindy’s honor and in her memory, but also because it’s really, really important to raise money to find treatments and a cure,” Chip says.
“And we don’t want another family to go through the loss we went through,” Ali added.
Chip and Ali will post pictures after the race on their fundraising page, as well as an updated report on the research progress from the Johns Hopkins team.
You can contribute to the Cindy Rosencrans Fund, and support Chip and Ali’s race at the end of the month by donating here.
I’d like to thank Chip and Ali Rosencrans for taking some time to tell me their story. All photos courtesy of the Rosencrans family.