2009 Philadelphia Half-Marathon in support of Taylor Buonadonna and her family
The first official fundraising endurance event of www.RunningOnLove.org, dedicated to its mission to Give Love…Touch Lives, was The Philadelphia Half-Marathon on November 22nd, 2009. Our mission was to raise funds for brave 16-year-old Taylor Buonadonna, to help her defeat osteosarcoma—a rare form of bone cancer that she was diagnosed with at the age of 13.
Taylor was one of six children. Her parents, West and Maria, waged a valiant fight to conquer this disease, with the hope and prayer of helping Taylor live a long, healthy and happy life. Taylor had undergone experimental treatment in Texas, accompanied by West who was there caring for her. She sadly lost her battle in November of 2010.
Here is Taylor’s emotional story of courage, hope and faith, in the words of her father, West Buonadonna.
At first glance, Taylor Buonnadonna is a normal 16-year-old girl. She’s an excellent student, plays the flute and has lots of friends. She was born in South Philadelphia, and now lives in Washington Township, NJ, with her five siblings, parents, grandmother, two dogs, two cats and two hamsters.
One day, while playing on the trampoline, Taylor banged her knee. After a few days, she complained that her knee was still hurting her. Believing this to just be a normal bruise, we told her to put ice on it and the pain would go away. It did. However, about two months later she banged the same knee in the same way. This time the pain did not go away. We felt like someone was trying to tell us something. We took her for an x-ray, which to our horror, revealed a tumor.
In June 2006, at the tender age of 13, Taylor was diagnosed with a bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Of all childhood cancers, osteosarcoma is rare, but it is the most common bone tumor in children; it affects approximately 400 children under age 20 every year.
Taylor began her treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). This treatment included high doses of chemotherapy for nearly a year. She also endured a surgical procedure called limb salvage surgery, where the affected bone was removed from her right leg. For almost two years, we thought Taylor had gone into remission, but we were wrong. The osteosarcoma returned, and this time it was found in her left knee and had spread into her lungs.
After a second limb salvage surgery on the left knee, we brought her to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York for two different clinical trials of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, both of those trials failed to stabilize her disease. By this time, the disease had spread into both of her lungs and multiple bone joints.
Taylor was treated by one of the nation’s leading oncology doctors at The University of Texas’, MD Anderson Cancer Center, hoping to give Taylor a better quality of life. She has since returned home to be near family and friends and continues her treatment plan.
We often wish that Taylor’s story could be told on a larger scale. By the kindness of so many that have helped us along the way, her story is now being told. Someday we hope to fulfill Taylor’s wish to publish her story, with all the proceeds going to research for her disease.