Meet our Walk Chair: New York City Brain Tumor Walk

Sunday, June 9, 2019, Randall’s Island, New York City, New York



Ruth Kavanagh

I am once again proud, honored and humbled to serve as your 2019 New York City Walk Chair.  Since my initial brain cancer diagnosis in 2014, I’ve participated in our NYC Walk. I’ve also served on our Planning Committee for five years.  In 2016, I was the Walk’s Co-Chair and in 2018, I was our Chair.  I’ve been honored several times as a “Top Individual Fundraiser.”  Clearly, NBTS has meant so much to me throughout my unending battle with this terrible disease.

If you’ve participated in our past NYC Walk, you’ve likely heard my story.  Over the last five years, I conquered brain cancer twice, underwent four brain surgeries, and endured so much radiation in such a short amount of time that my brain is permanently damaged.  I developed major, potentially life-threatening infections.  One resulted in my 3rd surgery, wherein my team of surgeons had to take a graft from my abdomen and replace 1/3 of my scalp, taking over 12 hours.  My head now sports the freckles from my stomach!  During my 4th surgery, only intended to revise that graft, my surgeon discovered 3 separate infections in my skull.  Despite having no symptoms, 2 of those infections were particularly antibiotic-resistant.  So, what was supposed to be a simple procedure became a true nightmare.  Hooked-up to a portable 24-hour IV for over a month, I struggled to even eat a piece of toast while my skin literally turned grey.  During that time, I got the call no one ever wants or should ever have to receive – one of my dearest friends, a brain cancer and NBTS superhero, Jaclyn Sabol Patton, was nearing the end.  It was time to say goodbye.  We lost her May 9, 2017.  The world lost so much, when we lost her.

Although I am “cancer free”, every day is a new struggle.  I developed epilepsy.  Despite multiple medications, a seizure can still occur anytime, anywhere.  I have limited mobility on my left side.  I’ve spent years in physical and occupational therapy.  I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been hospitalized, MRIs and scans I’ve gone through, and worst of all – the times I’ve sat in my oncologist’s office discussing the possibility that the tumor may have returned.  In my case, if the tumor does ever return my one and only option is the hope of a clinical trial.  Given how rare my tumor is, the chances of an open trial are slim to none.


Despite it all, I feel truly fortunate.  I’ve never asked, “Why me?” – only, “How do I fight this?”

One important way I’ve chosen to fight this is working with NBTS.  Through this journey, I’ve met some of the greatest, strongest people on Earth – survivors/thrivers, caregivers and all those involved with our Walk.  I feel stronger and it energizes me raising funds, raising awareness and advocating for NBTS.  Frankly, the day of our Walk is one of my favorite days of the year!


We all know the phrase, “It takes a village…”  Well, that’s why we need you!

While our Walk is just one day, it takes months and months of planning to ensure that day is so very special.

As part of our NBTS community, there’s countless ways you can help ensure our Walk continues to grow and succeed.

Of course, you can’t have a Walk without walkers, right?  So, please register your team now, start building your team, and start raising that money!

No matter how many hours you can dedicate, we are also looking to build our Planning Committee.  We need help making phone calls and writing emails, securing in-kind donations of snacks and other giveaways, as well as finding new sponsors.  As a committee, we all work together to support one another.  So, we are here to help you help us!

Are you tech-savy or into social media?  Make a short video on “why you participate” and we can share it on our social media forums.  Become a social media star so you can brag to all your friends and family.  Remember-your story is so powerful.

Do you have any ideas for the Walk?  Let us know.

Our 9th annual New York City Walk on June 9th should be, and will be the best yet.  Help us make sure it will be!