Robyn Stoller learned first-hand that a diagnosis of cancer can be both life-altering and devastating. She also learned that navigating a cancer treatment plan and knowing about, much less making sense of, the information and the resources that already exist is as challenging and confusing as the disease itself.
In March of 2000, Robyn’s 37-year old husband Alan was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. After undergoing surgery to remove his kidney, Alan was “cancer free”. Everything was relatively straightforward and other than visits to his oncologist and scans every year, cancer was a non-event in their lives.
Then came the summer of 2009 and Alan had surgery to remove a lump in his arm that he’d had for over 15 years. Over the years, many doctors diagnosed the lump as a lipoma and recommended that he leave it unless was growing or bothering him. However that summer, for no apparent reason, Alan decided it was time to get the so-called lipoma removed.
Several weeks after the surgery, the final pathology returned with a completely different diagnosis- pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer. Shortly thereafter, they learned that the cancer had spread to Alan’s lungs. Now nothing was as it appeared to be, and it got worse from there.
As if fighting cancer wasn’t hard enough, they had to find treatment alternatives- both medical and non-medical; travel assistance to get from Houston to DC after Alan had brain surgery; trying to find what we felt was good, sound nutrition information; how to appeal insurance decisions; negotiating payments to doctors; etc. This took tremendous time and energy that was desperately needed to fight the cancer and raise their children. Despite everything they tried, Alan passed away on one year later at the age of 47.
Since then, Robyn’s research has uncovered thousands of organizations whose sole mission is to ease the lives of cancer fighters, survivors and their loved ones. What began as a desire to share this information and knowledge has grown into a nonprofit organizations whose mission is to connect anyone touched by cancer to the services, products and advice they need to make their cancer journeys a tad bit easier.
Robyn chose the name CancerHawk because hawks are symbolic of messengers and protectors. Keen vision is one of their greatest gifts, which is why they can see things that others may miss.