A New Podcast Launched by the AACR Foundation

Mitch Stoller
AACR Foundation, Chief Philanthropic Officer and Vice President of Development

One thing I have enjoyed throughout my career is having conversations with interesting people about things that really matter. The urge to share thoughts and feelings with others is what led me to begin the AACR Foundation’s new podcast, Believe in Progress.

In my conversations, I’ve learned how one decision can change the trajectory of a person’s life. For example, after participating in Run Across America, Matt Vossler and a group of friends decided in 1987 to swim across Long Island Sound to raise money for cancer research. This was the beginning of Swim Across America, an organization that hosts charity swims across the nation to raise money for cancer research. Vossler had a steadfast belief that philanthropic funding would be necessary to help pay for innovative cancer treatments like immunotherapy. To date, Swim Across America has granted more than $100 million in funding to support cancer research.

Again and again, people I’ve spoken with describe how important it is to do what makes you happy. For Vossler and Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher, it’s swimming. Trevor Maxwell, founder of the cancer support group Man Up to Cancer, finds solace in hiking and being outdoors. While enduring cancer treatments, singer Lauren Hart found peace singing the national anthem before Philadelphia Flyers hockey games. Ricki Fairley, a triple-negative breast cancer survivor and founder of Touch, the Black Breast Cancer Alliance, faithfully takes her dog on her kayak for a morning ride. Three-time cancer survivor Sarah Happy finds comfort in running. For Howard Brown, a two-time cancer survivor and author of Shining Brightly, the basketball court is his “happy place.” In my conversation with Brown, he implored listeners to seek out what brings them joy: “Go find it. Go there often.”

People on the podcast have also told me their fears. After her cancer, Fairley felt she could face anything without fear, yet she worried that one of her daughters might someday get cancer. That fear drives her to continue working against the disease.

The Believe in Progress podcast offers a forum for my guests’ voices, their stories, their raw emotions, their fears, and their hopes. I want to leave you with some things they said that stayed with me, and I invite you to listen to an episode.

Go live your life. Go live your life to the fullest. Because you don’t know. Nothing is given to you. So when we’re out there exercising or hiking, I feel those guys in my heart.”

Trevor Maxwell, describing how he remembers Man Up to Cancer members who have died

Just keep moving. Keep moving forward.”

Lauren Hart

Even when there are horrible things happening, there are still moments where you can find joy, and you can find happiness and you can laugh.”

Sarah Happy

The minute you’re diagnosed—the second you’re diagnosed—you have to say, ‘I’m a survivor. I’m a survivor now.’ And you have to believe that you’re going to get better. You have to believe that you can tackle this mountain and that you can tackle this monster and you’re going to come out on the other side.”

Ricki Fairley

Because with hope you can make it that two steps out of bed, you can actually make it back to work. You can accomplish your goals.”

Howard Brown