Leigh’s Battle with Cancer
Leigh was diagnosed in August 2008 with small cell neuroendocrine cancer of the cervix, a rare and aggressive cancer with poor prognosis. An exhaustive review of the medical literature at the time surfaced less than 300 reported cases of the disease since 1977, with terrible survivorship statistics and few treatment options.
Leigh received medical consultation from experts at Stanford University, MD Anderson, Mount Sinai Hospital, UCSF, Johns Hopkins University, Mass General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Duke University. All concluded that her case was extremely rare and likely would be terminal.
In spite of these odds, Leigh was emotionally and physically very strong and fought very hard to save her life. She tried 8 different chemotherapy drugs over 14 months with hopes that one would work, and never gave up hope that a treatment option would be available. She underwent molecular profiling of her disease, explored new diagnostics, and sequenced her tumor for genetic mutations which might have led to potential drug treatment options or available clinical trials. She immersed herself in alternative healing and embraced numerous forms of alternative medicine. In the end, Leigh tried everything to save her life, and fought hard to find a cure in the face of ever worsening odds. Leigh’s own words probably said it best: “If there is a chance it will work, I’m willing to try it.”
It is Leigh's strength and courage, coupled with her compassion and love for others, which inspires the mission for The Leigh Sakoda Foundation. Patients with rare cancer all are faced with the same challenges — their disease is frequently untreatable and there is very little funding to support research to find new cures. According to articles published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 25% of cancer mortalities are due to rare cancers which have incidence of less than 40,000 diagnoses a year.
The Foundation aims to inspire research, improve diagnostics, and provide treatment options for young women facing rare cancer, providing strength, courage, and compassion to those in their fight. 100% of the Foundation’s proceeds will be given to non-profit organizations that are advancing these causes through new and innovative patient programs and research initiatives.