It’s never easy to see your loved ones dying, however David’s passing did not stop his sister Gabrielle in continuing to find a cure for osteosarcoma. The longer David battled with cancer, the more she chose to dive into biomedical research at The National Institute of Health and at North Carolina State University. Working in the lab, Gabrielle was surprised to find out that patient outcomes have not improved in over forty years.
Inspired by her brother David’s osteosarcoma diagnosis and the lack of improvement in patient outcomes in over forty years, Gabrielle pursued biomedical research as an undergraduate student. While deciding which universities to apply to for DMV PhD programs, she came across a Justin Baldoni interview on YouTube where he happened to mention the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. She continued researching and reading more about Zach's story, CCRF, and the University of Minnesota's osteosarcoma research out of sheer curiosity.
After being accepted into the University of Minnesota DMV PhD program, Gabrielle started working in the lab that’s aiming to stop osteosarcoma. “There are good and bad days.” Gabrielle said. “When an experiment or project doesn’t pan out, I take it personally.” We asked Gabrielle about her family’s experience with osteosarcoma, and she said “It was brutal; it was (and continues to be) an experience I would never wish on another person. If I could undo my brother’s disease, I would, in a heartbeat. But knowing I cannot change the outcome; I have dedicated my career to changing the outcome of children in the future. I will always be grateful for the wonderful medical team that surrounded David; their support and dedication will never be forgotten.”
Gabrielle hopes to use her first-hand experience to shape her work as a future physician scientist. “Research is unfortunately expensive. Although David is not here, his story is. His story has the power to bring awareness to osteosarcoma and childhood cancer,” she shared. I hope to use my experience to drive my work and to work towards cures for pediatric cancers.”
Gabrielle also gave us some encouraging words to share with anyone who wants to make a difference in the world of childhood cancer: “There are many ways to make a difference – help in the capacity that works for you. If you want to be hands-on, email researchers about potential volunteer positions. Reach out to an organization that raises awareness and funds for childhood cancer. Donate money and/or raise funds on your own to donate. Research is very expensive, and every little bit of support helps.”