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15-40 Connection and Rob Fuller Motorsports Honor Young Adult Cancer Survivor

Posted on August 07 , 2014 by Rob Fuller

15-40 Connection and Rob Fuller Motorsports Honor Young Adult Cancer Survivor

Thyroid Cancer Survivor Shares Her Story to Empower Others to Advocate for Their Healthsecuredownload

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (August 7, 2014) – When Stephanie Corliss was 27 and heard the words “you have cancer,” she never thought anything positive would come of it. This week, when she was asked by 15-40 Connection to be featured on the No. 15 Rob Fuller Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Stephanie said, “my mind was blown. Whatever I can do to help, I will do – so if that means putting my face on a race car to raise awareness, let’s do it. I don’t want people to go through what I went through.”

15-40 Connection is a non-profit organization that has partnered with Rob Fuller Motorsports to raise awareness of cancer symptoms and the obstacles teens and young adults face to diagnose cancer at earlier stages. A photo of Stephanie will be featured on the decklid of the No. 15 driven by Todd Szegedy at the Thompson Speedway (Aug. 13) and Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 20) events.

Stephanie, a Leominster, Mass. native, spent 10 years with health issues before she was properly diagnosed.

At age 14, Stephanie was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after months of changes in her health – including weight gain and persistent fatigue. In the years following, she took the prescribed thyroid medications that regulated her hormones. She had routine blood tests and her medications would be changed based on the results of those tests. In spite of all that, Stephanie’s symptoms never improved.

While in college she switched doctors a few times still seeking an answer – as the problems were not being solved and she continued to hear comments such as “it’s all in your head” or “you just need to eat right and exercise more” from her physicians.

“After a few years with the same endocrinologist and extensive research online about the different medication options, I asked my doctor why I wasn’t feeling ‘right’ and what I could do to feel better,” Stephanie recalled. “I was at my heaviest weight and everything was just off. My doctor’s response? ‘You just need to admit that you are overweight and lazy.’ I informed his secretary as I was leaving that I wanted my records prepared ASAP. I was going to seek another opinion.”

Stephanie trusted her instincts and found a new doctor who listened and immediately tested her for cancer. When the results came in, Stage 4 thyroid cancer was confirmed. Her story illustrates one of the major challenges to increasing cancer survival rates for teens and young adults – delayed diagnosis.

Fortunately, after surgery to remove her thyroid and 50 lymph nodes, Stephanie said she heard “the best news of my life – the cancer hadn’t spread past my lymph nodes and the likelihood of it returning was slim to none.”

As Stephanie sums it up, “Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t listened to myself, knowing my own body and understanding that something was wrong. My advice? Listen to that voice inside your head that’s telling you ‘This isn’t right.’ Seek out second, third, even tenth opinions until you know you have someone listening to you. It could save your life.”

Tricia Laursen, Executive Director at 15-40 Connection, uses Stephanie’s story often to illustrate the obstacles teens and young adults face that can delay an earlier cancer diagnosis.

“Stephanie experienced what many young adults unfortunately go through,” said Tricia. “The good thing is that at a young age, she had the courage to stand up for herself, seek another opinion and ultimately secured the proper diagnosis. Improvements in cancer survivor rates among teens and young adults lag behind all other age groups. So sharing experiences such as Stephanie’s is highly important to empowering young adults with information that could save their lives.”

Young adult cancer survivors are an important part of the race weekend for Rob Fuller and the No. 15 team. Earlier this season, Rob Fuller Motorsports featured Josh Bell, a leukemia survivor, at Daytona, Dave McGrath, a brain cancer survivor, at Thompson and Brian Regan, a testicular cancer survivor, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It’s rewarding going to the race track and being able to share a message that can make a significant difference in people’s lives,” said Rob Fuller, team owner. “She likely doesn’t know it, but Stephanie has a great impact on our team when we’re at the track. The constant reminder of the challenges she faced and overcame keeps us going and thinking positive when we’re working on the car. There’s no question that I’m honored to have Stephanie as part of our team for these upcoming races.”

Race fans are urged to read Stephanie’s full story at 15-40.org and share it with those they care about. Race updates will be provided at the 15-40 Connection Facebook and Rob Fuller Motorsports Facebook pages during the two events.

About 15-40 Connection
15-40 Connection is raising awareness of the fact that cancer survival rates in teens and young adults aged 15 to 40 have barely improved since 1975 in large part because of delays in diagnosis. It is empowering individuals with knowledge that will save and improve lives through early cancer detection. For more information, please visit 15-40.org

About Rob Fuller Motorsports
Rob Fuller Motorsports was established in 1999. It is a company solely based on one person’s vision to do more with less in the motorsports industry. From the Saturday night racer looking for those extra two tenths to assembling a COT car that qualified for the Daytona 500 out of his own backyard shop, Rob puts forth the kind of quality and work ethic found in top NASCAR teams. He takes great pride in the fact that many of his employees move on to Hendrick, Gibbs or any other highly respected team in NASCAR to further their career in racing.

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Media Contact:
Nealie Stufflet
Rob Fuller Motorsports PR
(704) 918-0963
nealie@robfullermotorsports.com