By BROOKE WANSER
A month after graduating from Fred J. Page High School in 2015, 18-year-old Matt Fornero was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer usually diagnosed in children that affects the muscles.
His mother, Jayme Fornero, said doctors discovered a tumor in his testicle, from which the cancer spread to his abdomen and lymphatic nodes.
After two surgeries, Fornero’s mother said he went through chemotherapy and radiation.
“Sarcoma is a pretty aggressive cancer so you have to go as fast as you can to get things treated,” she said.
Now, more than two years later, Fornero is cancer-free and attending college in Chattanooga.
But the trauma of sarcoma cancer stayed with his mother, who has worked with the Sarcoma Foundation of America to start the first Race to Cure Sarcoma in the Nashville area.
Fornero said she had seen similar events in Denver, Philadelphia and Chicago, so she called the Sarcoma Foundation.
“I called and asked if they had one in Nashville and they didn’t,” she said. So she began one herself.
The 5k run and walk will be held in the Berry Farms neighborhood on Saturday, Nov. 4, beginning at 9 a.m.
Fornero was helped in organizing the event by Kristen Ivory, a Nashville woman whose young brother succumbed to a rare strain of Ewing’s sarcoma early this year.
After successfully undergoing treatment, Ivory found out her nine-year-old brother, Beckett’s cancer had persisted. She and her fiancee changed their wedding date to March 4 and notified guests that 20 percent of money they received for their honeymoon fund would be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation.
Beckett died only two weeks later, on March 19.
For Ivory, getting involved with the Sarcoma Foundation was imperative:
“He [Beckett] literally died because there wasn’t enough information about the strain that he had,” she said. “I just thought that was ridiculous.”
Fornero said 50 percent of the funds raised will go to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and 50 percent will go to the Sarcoma Foundation. The race’s website shows that over $15,000 has already been raised.
For Ivory, the memory of her brother spurs her on as she continues to fight for money to fund research into the rare cancer.
“It was his last full happy day,” Ivory said of her wedding. When she watches videos from the day, she sees her brother as he was before illness sapped his strength: “He’s happy, he’s dancing, he’s lighting it up.”