IRONMAN Triathlete, marathoner, animal lover, best friend to many, world citizen, ball of energy… are all used to describe our incredible friend Saila.

On June 30, 2017, as a 35 year-old non-smoker, Saila was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Being the incredible person she is, after only a few days Saila decided her diagnosis is just another race to run with the same strength and determination as all the others she’s won.

Cancer won’t define her or her story, but she can’t do it alone. With YOUR support, and in partnership with Dr. Pasi Jänne and his team at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, we can grow funding for new clinical trial treatments that fight back against cancer.

JAKSAA has become Saila’s motto. Translating to “STRENGTH” in her native Finnish language, this word encapsulates Saila’s approach – Dream big and fight together until we win. PERIOD.


There is no verbatum translation of the Finnish word, but its roots in racing are a perfect fit for Saila’s character and mission. Cancer at any stage of life is a difficult prognosis, but more than unexpected for a young woman with a healthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, Saila has met this challenge head on with a fortitude representative of an athlete overcoming internal struggle to reach a goal.

Jaksaa is here not only to help raise awareness and funding for research into genetic lung cancers, but also to assist others to organize events in support of those who need help in their fight.

As cancer has proven to be a formidable opponent for many, we have ambitious goals for the organization. The first of which is to raise $1M of which we have been able to raise $147,000 to date.

As with any lifelong fight, this will just be the beginning. As so many people need support and funding, we are dedicated to aid those in need. This will come in the form of educational resources, resources for fundraising events, inspiration, and financial support for organizations and individuals.



My name is Saila (s uh y l ah). It’s safe to say I have not always taken the ordinary path in life. Everyone’s story is unique, and here is a little about mine so far:

I was born in Finland and came to the U.S. when I was 5 years old. Since then, I have traveled the world, often nodding enthusiastically at every opportunity to take on a new challenge. I try to make sure no experience is missed. When it comes to setting goals, I don’t take no for an answer. I strive unhindered towards those goals with a determination I was lucky to be born with. Overcoming challenges and sharing these adventures with family and friends is my favorite part.

I have always had a passion for sports, both as a spectator and a participant. I followed in my father’s footsteps–quite literaly. What started in middle school with a 5km neighborhood jog with my dad turned into a lifelong love for running. I dreamed of one day doing a full Ironman distance race because completing 140.6 miles seemed impossible.

On October 2, 2016, I became an Ironman. On that day, I learned the true meaning of the Finnish word “JAKSAA”, as it was shouted at me and encouraged me in the toughest moments throughout the day. “JAKSAA” is a state that’s mental as well as physical. It means that someone has the strength and willpower to keep on going; it means that someone is powerful enough to do anything. Impossible became possible that day.

On June 30, 2017, as a 35 year-old non-smoker, I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. It took a few days, but I quickly realized this is just another race that I will run with the same strength and determination as all the others. I will not to let cancer define me or my story, but I can’t do it alone. For my treatment, I am excited to have the opportunity to participate in a new clinical trial at Dana Farber Cancer Institute under the care of Dr. Pasi Jänne and his team. JAKSAA has become my motto. I am going to dream big because I don’t know any other way, and together we will fight until we win. Period.

We’re winemakers now! Help support Jaksaa.org and your love of wine as we’ve teamed up with a vineyard in Paso Robles, CA, to make our own Jaksaa Reserve branded wine. Since the 2017 harvest, we’ve been working with our friends at the boutique vineyard and vacation rental at The Olio at Dudley Vineyard to create a wine that embodies the Jaksaa mantra, perseverance in the times of adversity. Both our Jaksaa Reserve blend and the Kaia Zinfandel estate grown wine are dedicating a portion of purchase to Jaksaa.org.

Our partners at The Olio at Dudley Vineyard have also offered a discount for friends of Jaksaa.org looking to visit Paso Robles. Head to www.OlioPaso.com to see pictures of this amazing boutique vineyard that sleeps 10 in the four bed/four bath home overlooking Dudley Vineyard and fifty+ acres of neighboring vineyards.