alum cancer survivor and her doctor

Running for the cure: UR alum and doctor form special team

November 4, 2022


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City gave Rose Tracy Maxfield a second lease on life. Through her love of running, the 1987 alum is now giving back by raising money for the center’s melanoma research.

The week before Christmas in 2020, Maxfield thought she had appendicitis. After a five-day hospital stay, the doctor told her it was possibly liver cancer. Stunned, Maxfield opted for a second opinion.

She’s glad she did. Maxfield turned to Memorial Sloan Kettering, where a biopsy revealed she had stage 4 melanoma — and not liver cancer. The melanoma had found its way to her liver as well as the lining of her abdomen and her spine.

Maxfield feared she would never run again. Her oncologist, Dr. Allison Betof Warner, vowed she would.

Maxfield pursued an aggressive, innovative course of treatment and was declared cancer-free this past April. And Warner not only kept her promise, she joined Maxfield in the 2021 New York City Marathon.

The two ran as part of “Fred’s Team,” named for a co-founder of the New York Marathon who suffered from brain cancer. The effort helps runners raise funds for research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“The news of cancer not only impacts your body, but it impacts your intellect, your emotions, and your well-being,” Maxfield said.

Warner, a former marathoner, studies the role of exercise and how it affects cancer. From the New York City Marathon, the two friends raised more than $48,000 to benefit Warner’s research on the impact of exercise on immunotherapy.

In early October, Maxfield ran in the 2022 London Marathon, bringing in more than $9,000 to date.

Unfortunately, Warner sprained her ankle and couldn’t join the race. So Maxfield dedicated her run to Warner and her team at Memorial Sloan Kettering “for saving my life.”

Since she’s run two marathons within one year, Maxfield will take a break to give her body a chance to rest and stabilize — though she continues to exercise. 

“Studies have shown that cancer patients should just not lie down and rest all the time,” Maxfield said. “They should be moving — walking or talking with a friend, doing slight chores or other things that give them a boost. For me, the go-to cure for being down and blue has also been to go for a jog or work out.”