Like many boys, Sam loved playing sports – primarily basketball and football. At 6’5″ and 230 lbs. in the 10th grade, Sam was already a college prospect. But in the fall of 2002, X-rays of a nagging stress fracture in Sam’s left knee revealed the unthinkable… the diagnosis of bone cancer (osteosarcoma).
After an exhausting three months of chemotherapy, surgery to save his knee, and then more chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer, the news was bleak. Only 50% of the tumor had been killed, putting him into a high-risk group. His odds for survival dropped from the 75% to considerably less.
Even after hearing the news that his football career was over, he didn’t give up. He decided to play baseball. Although it did’t come easy, particularly with a prosthetic knee, he managed to pitch for a highly competitive East Cobb team, winning the final game of a world series in Tampa. Although he never would achieve elite athletic status, he fought to realize his dream of being part of a winning team.
Four and half years later, Sam and his family thought he had beaten his cancer demons. And then, more bad news. In the spring of 2007, Sam began to experience fatigue and discomfort in his lungs. The lung scan revealed that a grapefruit sized mass had taken over his lungs and chest cavity.
While many doctors felt the surgery to remove the tumor was life-threatening, one brave surgeon agreed with Sam to go for the “long ball” and remove the tumor…and a lung. Sam never made it off the operating table. The tumor was too difficult to extricate. But in many ways, the outcome was blessed. Sam never wanted sympathy, nor did he ever act like a sick person. He was good at everything except one thing – being sick.
Sam may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. The Sam Robb Fund will ensure that his spirit and determination to live life, no matter what the cards may hold, will live on to benefit others. So, too, will his mantra continue to inspired children facing childhood cancer: “Fightin Till the Last Breath.”
Purpose of The Sam Robb Fund
The goal of the Sam Robb Fund is two-fold. Helping to train young pediatric oncologist as well as supporting families in the thick of the battle with childhood cancer.
The Sam Robb Fellow at the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Services of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine
First, the Robb family believes it is critically important to help train young doctors who may make significant contributions to finding cures for childhood cancers, and they know Sam would be proud to support their education. These doctors care for children with cancer with unmatched skill and dedication, and the importance of providing them with the very best training and preparation for this vital and difficult work cannot be overstated.
Open Arms Support
Secondly, proceeds from The Sam Robb Fund will be used to support Open Arms, a program through which CURE staff and volunteers provide and serve meals to hospitalized childhood cancer patients and their families. In addition to providing needed food, Open Arms is an opportunity to support families in the thick of the battle with childhood cancer. For the Robb family, serving at Open Arms is an opportunity to stay connected with the journey. The Robb family’s original reason for service was to give back. However, after losing Sam, Open Arms became more important. “We are Sam’s family when serving dinner,” explains Annamarie Robb, Sam’s mother.
Introducing our new Sam Robb Research Fellow: Dr. James Felker
Dr. Felker grew up in Rochester, MI, a suburb of Detroit. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he majored in Atmospheric Science with a minor in Biology. He realized his passion was to become a physician and he went on to fulfill that goal at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY where he graduated with honors (Alpha Omega Alpha).
Following medical school, he attended and successfully completed his pediatric residency at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL (Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital). During his time in residency he spent extensive clinical time on the Pediatric Oncology wards. Here he was in the frontlines of the fight against childhood cancer and was inspired by the patients, families, and staff. He knew that he wanted to try to use his skills to help families affected by cancer. He fulfilled this goal in 2014, when he started his Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at Emory University (Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorder Center). His current research is in Medulloblastoma, the most common type of malignant brain tumor in children, under the mentorship of Dr. Anna Kenny, PhD and Dr. Tobey MacDonald, MD. He hopes to develop an innovative way of rapidly screening for new cancer treatments. This tool would lead to new treatments and hope for children and families affected by this devastating cancer.
Dr. Felker has glowing remarks concerning his medical knowledge, work ethic, and compassion for his patients. In addition to his work, he lives in Atlanta and is married to a Pediatric Cardiologist Fellow who is interested in researching the long term effects of chemotherapy on the heart. When they are not trying to improve the lives of children with cancer, they like cooking (and eating), running, hiking, and most of all spending time with their 2 year old daughter and Beagle mutt. Their family is about to get bigger too, because they are expecting a daughter any day!
How To Donate to The Sam Robb Fund
Click here to donate online and choose “Sam Robb Fund” in the Designation section. Your gift will be directed accordingly.
Checks can be made out to CURE Childhood Cancer, with “Sam Robb Fund” written on the notes line. Mail checks to: CURE Childhood Cancer, 1117 Perimeter Center West, Suite N-402, Atlanta, GA 30338
Special Events to Benefit The Sam Robb Fund: