Clare Blase, a freshman at Nerinx Hall High School, knows the importance of the upcoming St. Louis Pedal the Cause event, which raises money for cancer research. That's because the 14-year-old has firsthand experience with the disease.
Clare, who lives in Shrewsbury, is battling adrenocortical carcinoma, which is a very aggressive cancer, said Cindy Blase, Clare's mom. Only one in 3 million people are diagnosed with the rare form of cancer, which affects the adrenal gland.
“Pedal the Cause gives me hope,” Clare said. “To me, hope means that I can look forward to being around the people I love for a long time. We need to find a cure so parents don’t have to hear the sad news that their child has cancer.”
Last year, Clare attended Pedal the Cause in her wheelchair because chemotherapy treatments made her too weak to participate. This year, Clare will be riding her bike in the 15-mile race on Oct. 7 along with the help of her parents and "Team Clare."
"She was diagnosed in January 2011, and doctors removed a 1-pound tumor," Cindy Blase said. "Afterward, she went through eight months of grueling chemotherapy and lost feeling in her feet and had a partial loss of hearing."
In June 2012, an MRI scan showed that the cancer had returned, and Clare had to have emergency surgury to have three additional tumors removed, Blase said. Another scan in August showed that the cancer was still present. Clare is taking an experimental drug.
"She's lost some of her hearing and adrenal gland functions and takes medication every day that helps her function and stay alive," Blase said. "We know firsthand the benefits of Pedal the Cause. We can do so much good to help others by contributing to cancer research."
Clare is hoping to raise $10,000 for the race. She's committed to raising $1,000, and as of Tuesday night, she has received $1,800 in pledges.
Cindy Blase said you can donate to "Team Clare" through Oct. 31.
"But if Clare raises $2,500 by Oct. 6, she will be able to wear a yellow race jersey and she is really hoping to reach that goal," Blase said.
To make a donation to Clare's Team, please visit her Pedal the Cause website.