Love for Liza

In 2011, at age 22, my sister, Liza, was diagnosed with a rare cancer, synovial sarcoma. After chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, she has been in remission for the last few years. This Thanksgiving, she went to the ER with stomach pain, and found that the cancer had returned. During a visit to her oncologist at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Liza was told that because of an obstruction in her intestines she would not be able to receive any further treatment to save her life. She was given less than a month to live.

 After hearing this news, over 100 friends and family members from around the country dropped everything to meet in Shreveport, LA for Liza’s return to her hometown. We invited family and friends to a simple "fish fry" to celebrate her life. What everyone did not know was that they were actually going to attend a surprise wedding. 

Liza met her now husband, Wyatt, at Washington and Lee University. They are the definition of a long distance relationship; in the past five years, they have lived in China, South Africa and England. After living in London for the past few months, Thanksgiving was to be Wyatt's first official week back in Atlanta, where they were finally going to live in the same place. The timing was both perfect and terrible, as this was when Liza starting showing symptoms again. Wyatt has not left her side since.

When they heard that she only had a few weeks left, Liza thought the marriage they had dreamed of was out of the question. Wyatt thought, “Let’s get married this weekend!” He refused to let cancer rob Liza of the joy of being a bride and dancing at her own reception. In less than 48 hours, our aunt and uncle generously offered their house, on the lake where we spent our childhood, as a venue. A friend offered to let Liza borrow the wedding dress she had always obsessed over. Wyatt's Dad brought his mother's ring to give to Liza. The ring was particularly special as Wyatt's mother passed away a few years ago after her own battle with cancer. Everything was exactly how Liza had always wanted her wedding to be. Most people were expecting a somber evening, filled with tears, but after a sunset wedding, the night was filled with laughter, dancing and pure joy. I can't think of a better way to have celebrated Liza, along with Wyatt, and the joy she brings to all of our lives.  

The night after the wedding, the obstruction that had been preventing Liza from being able to receive treatment opened up. Liza called her oncologist immediately and he arranged for her to start a chemo pill. The odds are still not great, but hope is hope, no matter what the chances are. We are hoping the chemo will help stabilize or shrink the tumors so that she can get healthy enough to participate in an immunotherapy trial in the near future.

Because synovial sarcoma is such a rare disease, funding for research is scarce. Please help us donate to the Love for Liza Fund at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. The funds will be overseen by Dr. Christian Meyer as the primary investigator and will be used for collaborative basic research leading to discoveries primarily for synovial sarcoma, but also all sarcomas in general. Our goal is to learn more about the disease and discover new, and novel therapies through evaluating gene expressions in samples and looking at immunotherapy options for these patients.

If you would like to donate straight to the Love for Liza Fund at Johns Hopkins, please follow this link:

You will be able to give online, by phone or by mail.

To ensure that your donation is contributed to the fund, you must designate that you wish to support a particular physician or area of cancer research. Please designate the Love for Liza Fund.



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Ann Marie Haynie 
Shreveport, LA
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