Who Is the Survivor Squad?

 
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Peyman Moghaddam

Founder, Executive director, & Survivor

Peyman’s journey began after a routine visit to the doctor for a minor injury revealed a life changing leukemia diagnosis. In a state of shock, Peyman vowed to himself, his family and friends that his treatment would not get in the way of him living his best life. From then on he spent every day as his last, doing anything anyone undergoing chemo and radiation could. Despite the debilitating moments spent in surgery, in the ICU, and bedridden at home, Peyman managed to lead a somewhat average high school life. This was much to the credit of a caring teacher, lots of family and friends and and the amazing staff at Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, California. Terrified, but firmly refusing to succumb to this often terminal diagnosis, Peyman sat in disbelief as his doctor reported he was in full remission years later.

Peyman had never thought of living to be old enough or strong enough to go to college, and suddenly his concern was entrance exams not medical exams. After submitting numerous college applications outlining the the challenges faced by individuals undergoing cancer treatment as adolescents, it was evident that college admissions offices were not sympathetic to such circumstances. Refusing to let that stop him Peyman enrolled in a few junior college classes in order to apply to college as a Sophomore to four year universities. Quickly he was accepted into Fresno State University and graduated with honors with a BA in Business and Marketing.

For the last ten years Peyman has grown his career and is ready to give back.

 
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Stacey Baker

Founder & SURVIVOR SQUAD LEADER

A lifelong friend of Peyman’s, Stacey was there before, during and after Peyman’s treatment. Rather than the average time teenagers spend together playing sports and going to movies, Stacey and Peyman hung out eating take out and watching bad TV in hospital rooms and going together to doctor’s visits. Stacey witnessed first hand the struggles Peyman faced during treatment trying to keep up with school work and a social life while in a tremendous amount of physical and emotional pain. Though all the difficult times they still managed to have some fun and act like teenagers. Years later, upon reflection, those normal everyday experiences along with the support of all of his friends and family were instrumental in Peyman’s journey to remission. Peyman’s remission came along side graduation and the next phase of life began for them both.

Life took Stacey out of Fresno to San Francisco where Stacey spent many years working in the closely with the non-profit sector. This experience coupled with a background in business formation proved to be valuable years later when Peyman approached her about building the Survivor Squad. Now living in the Mountains of Southern California, Stacey could not be more excited to contribute to a cause so dear to her heart.

 
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Brook Bolger

FOUNDER & SURVIVOR SQUAD LEADER

When Brook graduated from college in May for 2008, he was expecting the typical graduation day: loved ones celebrating this rite of passage with pictures, reflection, and unbridled optimism. However, this was not to be. His father who was a large, barreled-chested man showed up having lost nearly 40 pounds since Easter break – a mere 7 weeks prior.  Brook was to learn that  his father had been diagnosed with liver cancer and that the cancer had metastasized to the size of a volleyball and spread to his pancreas.

Brook and his family spent the next three years being caretakers to his father. He experienced firsthand what it was to have a loved one battle cancer with limited resources, all the while trying to balance a fledgling career, be a mentor to two school-aged brothers,  and manage a family homebuilding business that had been struck a double blow by both the 2008 financial crisis and his father’s diminished capacity to manage the company.

After a series of recoveries and remissions, his father succumbed to his illness in spring 2011. This experience gave Brook an appreciation for the hardship that illness can plane on a person and their loved ones. The experience was emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. But for a strong support system of friends, relatives, and good health insurance; financial ruin and despair were inevitable.

After his father’s death, a twist of fate found Brook helping to build hospitals as a part of his career. Brook found himself helping out on Inova Fairfax North Tower, Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Various Expansions of John’s Hopkins Campuses in Baltimore, and Inova Women’s and Children’s hospital in Fairfax Virginia. At the Children’s hospital, he came face-to-face with a grim reality: as terrible as his father’s experience was, there people out there who were faced with the same challenge but in much worse scenarios. Some were financially taxed, some has little or no support system, and none were adults.

These children were facing the ultimate challenge not having had the opportunity to graduate high school, build a career, find a partner, and start a family.

Having gained competence in his career and developed some skills, Brook looked for an opportunity to give back. Enter Peyman. Brook and Peyman became fast friends when they met in California, and after Peyman shared his idea, Survivor Squad was formed.