Ann Graham

Adversity: Cancer diagnosis

Advocacy: Founded a nonprofit to serve pediatric cancer patients

“I used to think that everything happens for a reason, until I saw children dying of cancer. Cancer was my best teacher and ultimately, a saving grace. I love my age, my birthdays, my wrinkles, my life.”

It all started with knee pain while training for a marathon. Eventually, it got so bad that one day, Ann Graham couldn’t walk. At the age of 43, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that usually afflicts children. Graham began treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she underwent 30 rounds of chemotherapy and had most of the bones in her left leg replaced with titanium. That’s also where she met little superheroes who were battling cancer alongside her in the pediatric ward.

Graham survived; many kids with the same cancer did not. To make it better for kids battling cancer, Graham founded a nonprofit called MIB (Make It Better) Agents. The organization provides support for children with cancer and their families. “Hope is the light that shines in the dark room,” says Graham. That hope comes from “special agents” – pediatric cancer survivors who are paired with children still in treatment. The organization also has a network of “special ops agents” who provide funding for gifts and special experiences to help ease the suffering these little superheroes face in their battle against cancer. Whether it’s tickets to a Broadway musical for a superhero dancer or a new Stratocaster for a rock star hero, Ann Graham is making it happen for kids fighting cancer.

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