Cancer 'Thriver' Has 1 Miles for Moffitt Goal: Inspire Others

By Staff Writer - October 24, 2023

Lisa Sepulveda had never tried a five- kilometer walk or run before Miles for Moffitt presented by AutoNation last November. But now the metastatic breast cancer survivor is looking forward to this year’s Nov. 18 event, which raises money for research at Moffitt Cancer Center.

“It’s an amazing event and I got the chance to connect with people who are on a similar journey. It was such an empowering experience, I’m so glad I had the energy to do it,” said Sepulveda of last year’s race. “My hope is just to be an inspiration to other people.”

Lisa signs the courage wall at the 2022 Miles for Moffitt.
Lisa signs the courage wall at the 2022 Miles for Moffitt.

Sepulveda will walk the 5K along with her husband and 21-year-old son, hoping her example shows others they too can thrive after a cancer diagnosis.

She is excited to be sporting the “Thriver” Miles for Moffitt shirt, a new option this year.  The “Thriver” and “Survivor” shirt options allow participants to choose which word best represents where they are in their cancer journeys.

Not long after Sepulveda moved from New Jersey to Sarasota in 2020, a regularly scheduled mammogram revealed she had a form of breast cancer known as HER2 positive.  She learned that her cancer was already in stage 4, which means it had spread elsewhere, in her case to one of her vertebrae.

“When your initial diagnosis is stage 4, it has a really unique sting,” she said.

Her doctor in New Jersey recommended she see Dr. Brian Czerniecki, a renowned breast cancer surgeon who had recently joined Moffitt.

She began chemotherapy at Moffitt in the fall of 2021 and had a double mastectomy in January 2022.

But because of the nature of her cancer, she understood it would be something she would live with for the rest of her life. In December 2022, she got the frightening news that the that the cancer had metastasized to her brain. She received radiation treatment which has successfully reduced her tumors.

Despite the ups and downs of her journey, Sepulveda is grateful for the care she has received and is doing her part to give back on behalf of others facing cancer. She has worked with Czerniecki’s team to serve on committees and participated in Snapshots of Courage, an exhibit of photographs of breast cancer patients.

“I have an enormous amount of gratitude to Moffitt and everyone there,” she said. “The one thing about Moffitt that’s so unique is that everyone who steps into the hospital is having the same journey. It’s very empowering and it’s almost like a family. Literally everyone there is supporting you.”

Her larger purpose is to raise awareness and help others, including those facing cancer now and in the future. That’s why she’s looking forward to her second Miles for Moffitt, fueling research that can save lives from cancer.

“My mantra from day one is that hope is stronger than fear,” she said.

For more information or to register for the 2023 Miles for Moffitt, visit MilesforMoffitt.com.

This article was written by Curtis Krueger of the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation.

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