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Karmanos nurse brings tremendous devotion to racing, raising funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

From being a self-proclaimed couch potato to a runner and a half ironman finisher, Lori Stauffer, staff nurse in hematology and bone marrow transplant at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center, has become a fundraising phenom for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

“I was never a sports person in high school,” she said. “I finished my first race well and it was fun, so I turned around and signed up for my next race.”

Stauffer has extra motivation for perseverance in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. She lost her mother, Mary Bassett, to multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, in June 2005. She was diagnosed with the disease only two years prior.

Since she began racing in 2004, Stauffer has participated in seven half marathons; one full marathon; one hike event and two triathlons. Her most recent was a race in Sandusky, Ohio, and she’s planning her next race, the St. Anthony Tri, an Olympic distance triathlon, in Florida in April 2014.

Stauffer has raised approximately $28,000 for LLS, which is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer and has a mission of curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

LLS also funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services. Karmanos has been the recipient of research dollars through the LLS.

“I’m passionate about their mission,” Stauffer said. “They provide co-pay assistance, free medications for patients and education. I also do this in memory of my mom. Her name and picture usually ride on the back of my shoulder when I participate in a race.”

Stauffer said she got interested in the Team in Training program when she received an informational flyer in the mail. She began training and since then, has done races in Florida, Cincinnati, San Francisco and even as far as Alaska.

“I get a lot of camaraderie from my team training,” she said. “It’s the socializing that I enjoy. It also feels exhilarating to finish a marathon. I’m not fast. I’m not going to win, but I endure.”

Stauffer said she has found creative ways to raise money, including sending out letters, calling on past donors, holding a bucket drive at local stores and selling beads at Tiger’s baseball games.

“I have people who have supported me for years,” she said.

Stauffer has been with Karmanos since November of 2007. She assists Jeffrey Zonder, M.D., leader of the multiple myeloma subcommittee of the Malignant Hematology Oncology Multidisciplinary Team at Karmanos. Though her work with multiple myeloma patients is coincidental considering that her mother passed away from the same disease, she says her job is meaningful and rewarding to her.

“I like it,” she said. “It’s very challenging but I feel like I make a difference.”

Dr. Zonder said that Stauffer approaches her work with the same dedication and tenacity as she does her fundraising and racing.

“Lori is an inspiring person,” Dr. Zonder said.  “First, she is excellent at her job. She genuinely cares about her patients and understands their illnesses and treatments at a very sophisticated level. She has legitimate expertise in the area of myeloma, which I am sure would make her mother, who died of the disease, proud.  Additionally, her sustained effort on behalf of LLS, as an athlete fundraiser, and also as a coach, is remarkable and generous. I feel lucky every day to have her working with me in clinic.”

Tami Duquette, senior campaign director of Team in Training at LLS, also sings Stauffer’s praises.

“She has been a great team member,” Duquette said, adding that Stauffer has coached walkers who raise funds for LLS. “What’s great about the program is that people who are personally affected by blood cancers, it gives them a physical way to work through it. That’s what happened with Lori. She just keeps moving forward and trying to make a difference. She is just dedicated.”

To learn more about LLS or Team in Training, visit www.LLS.org or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. LLS also is establishing a Detroit team through its Team in Training program. It will kick off with a run/walk tour of midtown Detroit beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 at Run Detroit, 441 West Canfield, Detroit, MI 48201. To RSVP for the event, visit www.teamintraining.org/mi or call (248) 581-3942.

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
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