Take the Wins

Knowing that his last scan yielded a result of no disease detected, 30-year-old ,Steve Tribanas walked into the clinic at the tail end of his prescribed six month chemo regimen, then turned around and tried to leave. “I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I knew it was just gonna suck so much.” But he was stopped in his tracks by the don’t-even-think-about-it stares from his mother and wife. He turned back around and went through the session. This was on January 18th, 2023. A subsequent scan in February yielded another no disease detected result, which felt like a nail in the coffin for his cancer. By the end of March—only six months after being diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma—Tribanas and his wife, Samantha, would run the 7.6k option of the Philadelphia Love Run. But it’s been a challenge the entire way.

In May 2022 Tribanas discovered a lump on his neck and asked Samantha, who is a physician’s assistant at Penn, to check it. They decided to monitor it for a week or two, and contacted his doctor when it grew in size instead of going away. Steve spent his 30th birthday on some nasty antibiotics for what he hoped would turn out to be an infected lymph node. The antibiotics didn’t work, which led to an ultrasound. “That was the first moment it felt kind of real, because I was in a cancer center…” Next came a needle/core biopsy, the results of which he received before his doctor did. “The report said the lump was ‘suspect of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.’ which was unsettling, but the real emotion came after I had some lymph nodes extracted and the diagnosis confirmed—Stage III Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, with cancerous lymph nodes in my neck, armpit, chest, and diaphragm.”

Rather than wallow in self pity, Tribanas shows tremendous grace and humility in his description of what followed. “Treatment was just 12 rounds of chemo. I had it good, you know? Based on what I saw other people going through. I’d see little kids there, people by themselves. I’d see old people with no one, struggling. I had my mother and Samantha with me every single treatment. It’s hard enough to walk this road with a loving support system, but seeing kids in the same hallway as me and the same chemo chairs, walking with their infusions….that was rough.”

After his Hodgkins was diagnosed, Tribanas reached out to an old friend who had beaten the disease. His friend sent him a copy of Stuart Scott’s book Every Day I Fight. Scott had been sports anchor for ESPN who passed away from a brutal form of cancer. Scott’s “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” philosophy inspired Steve “Scott’s chemo was much rougher than what I went through, and he would go to the gym after his chemo sessions and box for hours; so two days after my chemo, I hopped on my Peloton for 20 minutes and I felt effing great. It felt amazing.”

With no hesitation, Steve shares that the most important lesson he’s learned through his challenging battle with cancer is “Slow down with your life. Don’t rush it. I was always trying to fit everything in—like FOMO (fear of missing out) x30. I would stay up late just so I didn’t miss the crazy home run that happened, losing a slot of sleep, just going too fast. Slow down to be more present. Embrace the day. We don’t have every day guaranteed. These days are precious. You know those cliches? Like, hey, today’s precious, tomorrow might not come. At the end of the day, you could prepare, plan, think where your life’s gonna go, what you wanna do, and it can all change in four seconds. We had a summer of weddings planned, just a totally different idea of what we thought our year was gonna look like. Never did we think that we would be sitting in the Abramson Cancer Center every other week. It realigns your priorities, makes you think honestly about every day—about what and who is important, and how you spend your time. Not that I would wish this on anybody, but it is a different lens that helped us reprioritize our lives.”

He met Samantha online during Covid in 2020 and they got married after his first chemo treatment. “We got married in his parent’s backyard. Steve lasted like two hours at our wedding, before having to call it a day.” recalls Samantha. Steve adds “I took my own hair the day after our wedding. I was in control of that. I wasn’t letting cancer take my hair. I have a lot of hair that I can’t control, ever.” Steve’s hair is finally growing back, a thickening fuzz.

Tribanas was not a runner. He claims that he was “allergic to running his whole life. No thank you, I don’t wanna run.” He started running because he never wants to be in the hospital ever again. “I don’t want to be unhealthy ever again. I don’t want to ever have to go back to the doctor. I don’t want anyone telling me the schedule. I did not control my schedule—my doctor would text me that ‘we have an opening tomorrow, you have to come.'” Thanks to Rachel Kipphut, a nurse practitioner at Penn and also a good friend of Samantha’s, they started training in February for the Love Run 7.6k—shortly after he finished chemo. Samantha shares “Rachel connected us with Love Run and Legacy of Hope at the same time. She’s been going through a similar journey after having a tumor removed. Love Run was something exciting for her to get involved in—since she could run after having the surgery. She told us about it and we got excited. This was right when Steve was finishing chemo. We looked into Legacy of Hope and we were sold, excited. It motivated us. We started training, and wanted to be involved—either donate or come to the race, or both.”

They ended up doing both; after completing the Love Run 7.6k Steve and Samantha took a week off. Apparently no longer allergic to running, Steve is keeping his running goals to a manageable nine miles weekly—three miles x three days a week. After some prodding, he confesses that he may opt for the Love Run Half Marathon next year. So things are looking good for Steve. He knows that, before he can say ‘My cancer is cured,’ he needs to accumulate a streak of no disease detected results over the next five years. So, for now, he and Samantha are slowing down and taking their wins. In the meantime, we hope to see him—his head full of sweaty, uncontrollable hair—crossing the finish line with his amazingly supportive wife at next year’s Love Run half marathon.

Steve and Samantha may have finished their Love Run 7.6k, but you can still ,become a donor for their fundraising campaign, which will be active until April 30th. for Legacy of Hope’s Emergency Patient Support Network.

For anyone reading this who is fighting their own cancer battle and would like to connect with Steve, he has generously offered to lend an ear and guidance gained from his own experience. “I am fully open to telling my story to anyone. I’ve read multiple stories, good and bad, and they all helped me. Every story, talking to people who went through it, it all helped me; I want to pay it forward. Send a message to contact@legacyofhope.life with the subject line: Steve Tribanas.

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Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.