Imagine a life filled with success, a flourishing career, and the thrill of owning your dream car – a 1970 Chevelle SS, meticulously restored to perfection. Living in Los Angeles, life was cruising smoothly for Aram Babikian, an ETF sales manager in the financial industry. Little did he know that his life would take a sharp detour, leading him down a path of self-discovery and goodwill.
In 2019, Aram was in a devastating car accident that hospitalized him with multiple broken bones and other injuries. During his hospital recovery, he was encouraged to get a PET scan. When he got the scan later, it was revealed he had Stage 3 NLPHL Lymphoma, a rare and complex form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Aram sought guidance from seven doctors but eventually moved back to his hometown of New York City to undergo treatment. He successfully navigated through six rounds of chemotherapy while grappling with the stress and loneliness of treatment during the height of the COVID. The chemo treatments were hard, affecting both his physical and emotional self. “My body hurt, everything hurt, and I was still nursing all my injuries from the accident on top of the chemo treatments. I felt broken,” recalled Aram. But by the end of 2020, he had achieved remission.
Although his world was turned upside down, he refused to succumb to a victim mindset. “I focused on gratitude,” he said. “I became thankful for the accident as that led to the detection of my cancer.” He credits the power of the 4Fs, something he came up with during his journey – faith, fight, family, and friends – for the positive outlook that would become the pillars of his journey.
Aram is determined to make the most of his second chance at life. Cancer took him on a journey he never expected, but he refuses to let it define him. “Cancer changes your entire perspective on life,” he said. “When you survive, you gain a very distinct sense of wisdom; it completely shifts how you view the world and the things that are valuable and important.”
Now, he is using his experience to make a difference and to fight for hope. Looking to grow and test himself, Aram discovered Haymakers for Hope. This event combines his love for boxing with his desire to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others. Out of over 250 applicants, he was one of the 30 selected. His previous experience in fitness boxing and light sparring gave him the foundation to take on this new challenge.
But this event is more than just a boxing match for Aram. He explains, “This is a different kind of challenge from cancer, which was not in my control, especially during my treatment. But this event is something I can control. I want to challenge myself physically and emotionally in ways I haven’t before. I want to inspire current cancer patients to persevere and show survivors that they can use their experiences to be better and do better,” Aram said. “It’s a fight for self-love, and self-confidence after feeling so broken. It’s also an opportunity to inspire others to keep going, even in the face of darkness and despair.”
When picking a charity to benefit from his efforts, he yearned to find an organization specific to children and cancer and is in New York. “When I underwent chemo, I met other cancer warriors. A friend of mine became my ‘chemo’ buddy. He was in his 20s when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. He helped me really understand the journey I was about to have. I am looking to pay it forward and help others similar to the way he helped me.” Although Aram was familiar with larger national organizations, he felt disconnected. “As a native New Yorker, I love this place and have a soft spot for kids, so I wanted to keep my support local.”
Aram chose Hope & Heroes and its’ Greatest Needs Fund, a lifeline for families facing financial hardships due to their child’s illness. During his cancer journey, he was struck by the harsh reality of the exorbitant costs associated with cancer treatments. “What if people lack adequate insurance coverage or don’t have coverage at all? What do they do? How do they cope?” he said. “What if a child had to endure this pain alone without help?”
The Haymakers for Hope charity boxing event takes place on November 2, 2023 at the Hammerstein Ballroom (NYC). As he prepares to enter the ring, Aram knows this fight is not just about him. It’s also for those who cannot fight for themselves and to help the less fortunate in their battle against cancer. Together, with the support of his generous donors, Aram aims to knock out cancer and bring hope to those who need it most.