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Maura de Souza, the smile that just won't stop

Maura de Souza, a bright and beautiful twenty-two-year old, earned her degree in music from Sam Houston State University, completing her last year of studies after being diagnosed with a high-grade unclassified sarcoma. Maura’s parents and sisters formed a phalanx of support around her. Her friends made paper cranes, wore teal wristbands, and gave to sarcoma research. Her oncologist worked feverishly to get her into a clinical trial that might buy her a few more months, but the week before graduation, it was clear Maura wasn’t going to walk the stage with the rest of the Class of 2009.

So faculty and administration from the Department of Music came to M.D. Anderson with her cap, gown, and honor cord, filing into her hospital room, “Pomp and Circumstance” on a CD player, all participants in full regalia. Click here to watch the video on Maura's mom's blog.

Maura didn't die of breast cancer, but her story is part of our story because of the clinical trials legislation SGK continues to fight for. Pioneers like Maura who step up for clinical trials plow the road for survivors of the future. The clinical trials legislation has opened the doors so that patients with rare cancers will have access to clinical trials and state of the art treatment, even if their insurance company deems it not cost effective.

It's a painful fact that there's no money in treating rare cancers. We as a society have to do it because it's the right thing to do. The SGK fight for access to care extends to all ages, races, and all types of cancer.

So Maura's story goes on, as does her shining spirit. Her courage will continue to inspire and save lives far into the future. Click here to learn more about sarcoma. Send donations to the Maura Cassiana de Souza Music Scholarship Fund: c/o Sam Houston State University Advancement, Attn: Rhonda Ellisor, Box 2537,
Huntsville, TX 77341.

Read about how SGK funding has furthered the science of cancer treatment and opened doors to clinical trials for people with all types of cancer in Promise Me.