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NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: Using Molecular Imaging to Guide Cancer Therapy

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer- causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at the genomic and molecular level are helping oncologists treat cancer with greater success. This is the key to precision medicine, treating each individual’s cancer as unique.

Guiding Cancer Therapy Using Molecular Imaging

Molecular-genetic imaging (also known as molecular imaging) combines conventional anatomic imaging (MRI, CT, PET or ultrasound) with genomic testing and enables doctors to literally see cancer at its molecular or genetic level. Because of this, molecular imaging has the potential to characterize the genotype and phenotype of cancer as well as predict response rates and likely outcomes to selected treatments… all without the need for tissue samples that would be obtained through surgery or biopsy.

Molecular imaging is emerging as yet another tool doctors can use to help choose the most effective treatment(s) for individual patients.  With molecular imaging, doctors can provide more personalized, effective treatments to their patients.

Genomic Testing

While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the gene level. Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers or the driver genes for each patient’s cancer.

When combined with the molecular imaging technology, deeper and more detailed information that is specific to an individual cancer patient could be obtained and analyzed by the oncologists, which empowers them to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success.

Click here to learn more about genomic testing.

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Attention Women: 6 Must-Know Facts About Cervical Cancer

With cervical cancer continuing to affect women worldwide, it’s important to understand the disease known as a “silent killer” and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.

Quick stats:

  • Women of all ages are at risk of cervical cancer.
  • In the United States, an estimated 13,000 women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2016 and more than 4,000 women will die as a result of this diagnosis.
  • Although the number of new cases has been declining over the past decades thanks to the Pap screening, cervical cancer is still the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide.[1]

Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about cervical cancer:

1.  HPV is the #1 cause of cervical cancer.

To find a cure, it’s vital to know the causes. Most cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another through sexual activity.  Both men and women can be infected with HPV. It can be present for years without causing any symptoms and can be passed on to others without knowing.

The Centers for Diseases Control reports more than 20 million people are currently infected with HPV worldwide and another 6.2 million will contract the virus each year.[2] HPV has also been linked to other cancers including cancer of the throat, penis, anus, vulva and vagina.

2. Most cervical cancer cases are preventable.

Because cervical cancer is typically caused by HPV, the simplest way to prevent cervical cancer is to prevent HPV infection in the first place. Since 2006, a highly effective HPV vaccination has been used. Just like other vaccines, the HPV vaccine helps your immune system create an antibody response that protects your body against the infection. This vaccination is administered in two or three shots over a six-month period to both males and females between the ages of 9-26.[3]

Routine Pap testing is the best way to detect abnormal changes to the cervix before they develop into cancer. Much like removing polyps to prevent colon cancer, treating these abnormal cells can help prevent cervical cancer from forming. More than half of the women in the United States who get cervical cancer have never had or rarely had a Pap test.[4] The Pap test can also identify cervical cancer early – when it is in its most curable stage.

3. Only certain strains of HPV cause cancer.

HPV is serious – but not always a cancer indicator. HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Most men and women who have ever had sex will get HPV at some time in their lives. And while there are strains that can cause cervical cancer and make it the top cause of the disease, as mentioned above, most HPV infections go away without treatment and are not linked to cancer.

 4. Smoking and other factors increase risk of cervical cancer.

Women who smoke are about twice as likely as non-smokers to get cervical cancer. Smoking weakens your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight HPV infections on its own.

There is also evidence that long-term use of oral contraceptives as well as being overweight increase risk of cervical cancer.

Women with a sister or mother who had cervical cancer are two to three times more likely to develop the disease. Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of cervical cancer.

5. There are warning signs, but not early warning signs.

Cervical cancer often presents no symptoms in its early stages, which is why it is often referred to as a “silent killer.” But as the disease progresses, warning signs may present themselves. Examples include pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, painful urination, unusual discharge, abnormal menstrual cycles, pain or bleeding after sex, anemia, urinary incontinence, and back pain.[6] If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor right away.

6. Genomics research helps us attack cervical cancer – and all types of cancer.

NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics and away from the old “location-based” research approaches.

   Wayne Marasco, M.D., Ph.D.

Antibody Engineering
At NFCR’s Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering (CTAE), the research being conducted may end up being applicable for different types of cancer, not just renal cell carcinoma (one cancer-type the research is centered around). The NFCR CTAE – is affiliated with Dr. Wayne A. Marasco’s Laboratory in the Department of Cancer Immunology & AIDS of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a teaching hospital affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The NFCR CTAE focuses on targeted immunotherapy and treatments through engineered human antibodies.

Dr. Marasco has had great success developing antibodies that attach to carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), an important tumor-associated protein highly expressed in renal cell carcinoma – the most common type of kidney cancer. Once attached, the CAIX antibody can halt abnormal cancer growth. Current NFCR research by Center Director Dr. Marasco and his team combines CAIX antibody with immune response activators to more effectively treat renal cancer. Moreover, there is demonstrated expression of CAIX in cervical, breast, ovarian, and lung cancers, in addition to various other types.

Research like Dr. Marasco’s has the potential to move quickly from its focus on one cancer type to diagnostic and treatment applications for many cancer types, such as cervical cancer.

       Harold F. Dvorak, M.D.

Tumor Angiogenesis
Thirty years ago, NFCR scientist Dr. Harold F. Dvorak made the landmark discovery of the vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), which plays a central role in angiogenesis, the process by which tumors recruit blood vessels to supply the nutrients they need to grow and survive. Dr. Dvorak’s breakthrough led the research community to develop inhibitors of VEGF. One anti- VEGF targeted cancer therapy created has treated over 1.5 million patients with various types of primary and metastatic cancers. In 2014, this anti-VEGF antibody combined with chemotherapy was approved by FDA to treat patients with persistent, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. A comprehensive clinical program with more than 280 ongoing studies is investigating the use of the anti-VEGF antibody in over 50 tumor types, including more trials to treat patients with cervical and uterine cancers.

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[1]  http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/detailedguide/cervical-cancer-key-statistics
[2]  http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/features/hpv-cervical-cancer-vaccine-15-facts#1
[3]  https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-vaccine-young-women.htm
[4]  http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044199.pdf
[5]  http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervicalcancer/detailedguide/cervical-cancer-risk-factors

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2017: The Year of Cancer Genomics

A look at major genomic trends shaping healthcare

We are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs in the fight against cancer. Innovations developed in research laboratories are improving treatments for patients today. By focusing on the genetic makeup of cancer cells – rather than the part of the body where someone’s cancer originated – doctors are beginning to personalize and improve
treatments for individual patients.

“For years, NFCR has been supporting molecular profiling and next-generation sequencing to better diagnose and treat cancer patients with targeted cancer therapies – and it looks like 21st century medicine will be about cancer genomics,” said Franklin Salisbury, Jr., CEO of NFCR. “As we start to move away from the old ‘location-based’ approaches of treating cancer, at NFCR we are excited that doctors everywhere are using targeted cancer therapies to better treat all types of cancer.” He adds: “21st century medicine has embraced genomic technology and the cancer field is at the forefront of these efforts to better treat cancer by looking at the genetic aspects of the disease.”

Below is an excerpt on what to expect in the field of cancer genomics from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. The article is titled: “A Look Ahead: Seven Trends Shaping Genomics in 2017 and Beyond.”

Advances in Genome Sequencing, Pharmacogenomics, Gene Editing, and Biometric Wearables Will Provide New Pathways to Better Health

Genomics research holds the key to meeting many of the global healthcare challenges of the years ahead. In the last few years, costs for genetic testing have plummeted, as advances in sequencing technology have made individual genome sequencing economically feasible. Remarkable advances in genomics technologies, including pharmacogenomics, direct-to-consumer genomics, and wearable data-collection devices are leading to large pools of stored data.

Using in-memory computing technology, researchers are able to analyze and use this genomic data in innovative ways, leading to extraordinary changes in the way healthcare is delivered today. Some of these advancements are happening now, as liquid biopsy DNA tests emerge as noninvasive screening options for early cancer detection. And revolutionary gene editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 may soon offer innovative ways to modify genes to treat rare genetic diseases. 

A significant number of large-scale genomic projects are already underway, pointing toward positive advancements in 2017. Here’s a look at seven major trends that will shape the healthcare and life science markets in the field of genomics:

1. Integration of Genomic Data into Clinical Workflows

While major clinical centers such as Stanford Health Care and many cancer research centers are using genomic data to personalize treatments, the use of genomics in clinics nationwide is not yet commonplace.  This will change in 2017… [click here to read full article]

2. On the Rise: Pharmacogenomic

Researchers have already identified a few hundred genes that are related to drug metabolism, and are continuing to identify more …  [click here to read full article]

3. Emergence of Advanced Genomic Editing Techniques

This has great potential, ranging from creating a better food supply in agriculture to correcting specific mutations in the human genome …  [click here to read full article]

4. Noninvasive Cancer Screening

Another key disease-fighting tool to watch in 2017 is DNA liquid biopsy testing: a cancer-screening test based on a simple blood draw …  [click here to read full article]

5. More Direct-to-Consumer Genetics

Companies such as 23andMe offer direct-to-consumer testing, allowing people to explore their genetic makeup. The company provides a test that includes 65 online reports of ancestry, personal traits …  [click here to read full article]

6. Growth of Newborn Genetic Screening Programs

Within the next 10 years, it is quite possible that every new baby will have their genome sequenced … [click here to read full article]

7. Integration of New Data Streams

Population health management may be where analytics bring the broadest rewards, as new data streams that include wearables data, genomics (proteomics and metabolic) data, and clinical data converge to provide a better picture of a patient’s health … [click here to read full article]

As the costs for genetic testing continue to drop and these genomic technologies advance, healthcare will transform, more cures will be discovered and the millions of people worldwide will benefit.

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7 Cancer-Fighting New Year’s Resolutions

At the beginning of each new year, almost half of adults in North America resolve to better themselves in some way. From spending more time with family and friends to saving money to losing weight, New Year’s Resolutions are often made with the best of intentions but can be challenging to keep. In fact, studies show that more than 20% of resolutions are broken after the first week, 40% are broken after one month and 60% after six months.[1] YIKES!

In honor of 2017, we’ve put together seven cancer-fighting resolutions that are worth fighting to keep. If you can’t commit to all seven, simply pick one or two and stick with them. Your body will thank you.

1. Give your body the nutrients it needs.  

What you eat – and don’t eat – has a powerful effect on your health. Maintaining a healthy weight and nourishing your body with certain foods is key. A few simple changes to your diet can make a big difference in how you look and feel – and can also help lower your risk of cancer.

Add superfoods to your diet.
Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that contain large doses of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
* Add dark green veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale to your salads and omelets.
* Snack on a handful of raw almonds or roasted pumpkin seeds instead of a bag of chips.
* Also, check out some of our favorite cancer-fighting recipes using superfoods.

Replace one processed item a day with real food.
* Grab an apple or an orange instead of cookies.
* Substitute cucumbers and baby carrots for crackers. Dip them hummus for a tasty treat.
* Replace soda with a glass of water or sparkling water. Water helps your body get rid of toxins that put you at risk for diseases like cancer.

2. Schedule your screenings.

Regular cancer screenings help with early detection and prevention of cancer. Screening tests include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, pap smears for cervical and uterine cancer, body checks for skin cancer and more. Talk to your doctor to see what screenings are appropriate for you given your family history, age and lifestyle choices. For more information on cancer screenings, see NFCR’s Cancer Detection Guidelines.

3. Use sunscreen every day (even during the winter months).  

Skin cancer rates are on the rise and sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer. While people with fair skin may be more likely to develop skin cancer due to sun exposure, people with darker skin tones are at risk as well. Sunscreen protects against sunburn as well as harmful ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc on your skin on cloudy, overcast or winter days where there is no sunshine. Sunscreen also helps prevent premature aging.

4. Get moving every day.  

Studies conclusively show that exercise helps relieve stress, weight gain and reduces cancer-related risks. It can even help cancer survivors live longer. So, get out there and dance, run, bike or walk. Exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes every day has so many benefits.

5. Reduce your alcohol intake.

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free. Excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems and even cancer. To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer: On average, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.

6. Quit smoking. 

Smoking harms nearly every organ and organ system in the body. It can also cause 14 different types of cancer. If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung can be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.


7. Travel the world with Fly to Find a Cure.


Fly to Find A Cure
 is an NFCR program aimed at raising funds to accelerate vital cancer research projects with travel incentives. For every dollar donated, you earn airline mileage from your choice of popular airlines programs: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan®, American Airlines AAdvantage®, United MileagePlus® or Delta SkyMiles®. A major portion of your gift is also tax deductible. So make a resolution to travel to a new city or exotic location this year and fight cancer at the same time. To learn more, visit http://nfcr.org/miles.

From all of us at NFCR, we wish you a happy, healthy, safe 2017!

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT NEW YEAR’S

* The first New Year’s celebration dates back 4,000 years.

* Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year’s Eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

* It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year’s Day would bring either good luck or bad luck for the rest of the year, depending on who he/she was.

* December 31, 1907 marks the very first ball lowering in Times Square.

Source: MSN

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/homo-consumericus/200912/miscellaneous-facts-about-new-year-s-resolutions

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Party4Life 2016 & the Lucy Fund

Ongoing Fundraising Efforts Seek to Find a Cure for Metastatic Cancer

Over eight years ago, Lucy Stanovick began efforts to educate others about metastatic cancer and fund research to find cures. Her story in terms of an unfortunate diagnosis may be common, but her story of giving and organizing is truly unique. To this day, over $200,000 has been raised in Lucy’s name for the National Foundation for Cancer Research. This is her story…

Lucy’s Story

Lucy Stanovick found out she had Stage IV metastatic breast cancer on April 1, 2008 – she was just 42 years old. Lucy was an English professor, writer, devoted wife and mother of two and she was – understandably – blindsided by this diagnosis. She had always been health-conscious, did self-exams and received yearly mammograms, yet cancer still found its way in. In fact, her previous mammogram in July 2007 came back normal – no signs of cancer. Less than one year later, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
Lucy did not sit idly by as she fought her own health battles. For the next four years, Lucy educated the public about metastasis and became involved in initiatives aimed to stop the spread of cancer. It was Lucy’s goal to see metastatic cancer become chronic, not deadly, so that one day when someone you love walks into a doctor’s office and gets told they have metastatic cancer, the prognosis will not be terminal.  Sadly, as the summer of 2012 came to an end, so did Lucy’s life—she passed away at the age of 46.

Lucy’s Legacy

Metastasis causes more than 90% of cancer-related deaths, but receives less than 5% of the funding.

To educate others and raise money for research, Lucy gathered friends and family in 2008 for an all-day, all-night affair she called Party4Life.  Two years later, in partnership with NFCR, Lucy created the Lucy Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research. These efforts have since grown to include even more events and a larger community of supporters dedicated to advancing leading-edge research for metastatic breast cancer.

Lucy selflessly fought for future generations. Her passion lives on and your generous support helps keep her spirit alive.

Party4Life 2016

This year’s Party4Life was hosted by Lucy’s son’s coed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, at his alma mater, Susquehanna University.

Under the leadership of Chapter President Vickie Smith, Party4Life incorporated the theme of Monsters University and featured food, games, speakers, and all around fun!

To support their incredible fundraising efforts and support metastatic cancer research, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/Party4Life.

RESEARCH TO STOP METASTASIS

Dr. Danny Welch directs the NFCR Center for Metastasis Research in its investigations of cancer biology related to metastasis. Dr. Welch and his team have identified genes regulating metastasis, particularly metastasis suppressors; investigated the interactions between metastases and their surrounding tissues, especially for bone metastasis; and are now working to translate their findings into clinical practice.

Through research, they identified genetic changes that predict whether patients will or will not develop metastasis. At least some of these changes occur in mitochondria – where cells convert nutrients into energy. These results could determine that a simple blood draw and analysis of mitochondrial DNA – which is present in every cell and which is small enough to be rapidly analyzed – could be used to help doctors guide their strategies to treat patients.

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NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: Bladder Cancer Could Be Treated the Same Way as Breast Cancer

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal host cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at a genomic and molecular level is helping doctors treat cancer “smarter”.

Bladder Cancer: Stepping into the Era of Precision Medicine

Correct diagnosis is the foundation for effective treatment. And looking at the genes instead of just the cancer class is helping improve diagnosis. Traditionally, cancer diagnosis depends heavily on assigning a cancer into certain classes by analyzing cancer’s cell and tissue features. In recent years, gene and other molecular analysis tools have been used more frequently – and the molecular diagnosis practice is paving the road toward the era of precision medicine.

By analyzing molecules and gene sequencing data, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently found that a subtype of bladder cancer has the same molecular signatures as a subset of breast cancer. Both groups express low levels of a protein called claudin and share a same type of immune deficiency.  These similarities could mean it is possible to treat these two types of cancer originating from different anatomic locations with the same regimen of checkpoint inhibitor drugs or an approach of modern immunotherapy.

More research is still needed, but the door is now open to make more accurate and clinically meaningful diagnoses of cancers based on genetic testing results than just on the tissue features viewed from under the microscope. This would make precision medicine possible to benefit thousands of cancer patients around the world.

Genomic Testing

The era of precision medicine is here: Doctors could choose the right therapy for the right patient with the information derived from genomic testing. While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the molecular and gene levels.

Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers for each patient’s cancer. This empowers oncologists to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success. Click here to learn more about genomic testing.

 

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NFCR’s Genomics Newsroom: New Method to Detect Biomarkers

What is “genomics”?

Cancer develops when genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or changed. We know some cancer- causing genetic changes are acquired (i.e. smoking), while others are inherited. Studying cancer genomics explores the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Advances in understanding how cancer behaves at the genomic and molecular level are helping oncologists treat cancer with greater success.  This is the key to precision medicine, treating each individual’s cancer as unique.

New Method for Detection: MishCTC

Metastasis— the spread of cancer to a different organ or tissue— is responsible for the vast majority of cancer-related deaths.  As cancer grows, certain cells detach from a primary tumor and travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body. Detecting these circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood samples could help with early diagnosis of cancer, but the biggest challenge facing CTC detection is that there is a lack of reliable biomarkers.genomics-feature-image

A new method called MishCTC is being developed to enhance the detection sensitivity.  The new method is designed to detect a molecular biomarker called miRNA-21, which is a small RNA molecule that exists inside the tumor cells but can’t be detected in normal blood cells. Thus, miRNA-21 is an ideal marker for detecting CTCs.

With continual optimization, the MishCTC method could be used for molecular diagnostics in hospitals in the future. The results of this new test would provide vital and personalized information about a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and metastasis, which will guide the doctors to make much better and effective decisions to treat their patients.

Genomic Testing

MishCTC is a new method to detect cancer biomarkers.  Once detected, we can more easily detect the “Achilles heel” of the cancer.  While traditional methods treat cancer based on the body part where the cancer first originated, genomic testing looks at cancer on the molecular level.

Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers for each patient’s cancer. This empowers oncologists to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success. Click here to learn more about genomic testing.

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7 Ways Dogs Help People with Cancer

Dogs are known as “man’s best friend.”  They are loyal companions, always excited to see you, follow your every word and will never desert you.  Simply put, they love you unconditionally and aren’t afraid to show it.  Research now shows there are also health-related benefits to spending time with these adorable, furry, four-legged friends.

1. Dogs can smell cancer.
Canines smell up to 1,000 times more accurately than humans.  In multiple laboratory studies, dogs have been able to detect certain cancers by smelling breath or urine samples.
In one study, a Labrador retriever trained in cancer scent detection correctly identified 91% of breath samples and 97% of stool samples from patients with colon cancer. In another study, a German shepherd identified ovarian cancer malignancies form tissue samples with 90% accuracy.  Dogs might one day be used in conjunction with existing diagnostic tests to detect cancer at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable.

dog-cancer-2
2. Dogs are good for your overall health and heart.

One study
found that people with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure than those without pets. In another study, one year after suffering a heart attack people with dogs were more likely to be alive than those who did not have a dog.

3. Dogs can significantly improve your mood.
Cancer can cause depression and feelings of isolation.  Another study found that cancer patients who spent time with a therapy dog prior to treatment reported improved emotional and social well-being, even while their physical well-being was in decline during chemotherapy.

4. Dogs are good stress relievers.

dog-cancer-icydk

ICYDK: Dogs can suffer from cancer just like people. November 7th is National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day, a day created to increase awareness and understanding of canine lymphoma. It’s a good time to give your dog an extra hug or belly rub to let them know how special they are.

Going through cancer treatment can be stressful and dogs can provide a welcome distraction. Petting them releases endorphins that relieve stress and improve mood.  This can help patients forget about their pain or frustrations for a period of time.

5. Dogs are great company.
Going through cancer treatment can be a lonely experience.   Even if you have a strong support system, you may not be able to share your inner most feelings with them.  Dogs are always eager to listen… and they know how to keep a secret.

6. Service dogs can aid in recovery and independence.
When most people think of service dogs, they think of guide dogs for the blind.  But medical service dogs can also be trained to bark for help, retrieve a phone, assist in walking, and opening and closing doors.  They can even be trained to pick up dropped items or turn on/off lights and appliances.    This can be especially helpful for cancer patients who have lost a limb or have difficulty getting around as a result of treatment.

7. Walking a dog is great exercise.
dog-cancer-3Adding some form of exercise to your daily routine – even during cancer treatment – will enhance your physical well-being and aid in your recovery.  Cancer can literally be exhausting.  Research has shown that cancer patients who exercise regularly have 40% to 50% less fatigue.  Taking your dog for a walk several times a day provides the perfect amount of moderate exercise needed.

Whether you are a dog owner or have access to therapy dogs at your infusion clinics, dogs have the ability to help people with cancer better cope with their diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

Share with us how your dog helps you get through the day.

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A Loving Tribute to Elmo’s Friends Phyllis and Tony Geiss

A Legacy to Support Cancer Research

geissPhyllis and Tony Geiss lived long and extraordinary lives filled with many accomplishments.  NFCR has been the recipient of a generous gift from the Geiss Estate which will be able to move cancer research forward in a very significant way.  We would like to share with you a window into this inspirational couple’s lives.

Phyllis and Tony were perfectly matched.  Married more than 60 years, both possessed qualities of warmth, modesty, humor and intellect.  For a major anniversary, Tony had a star named for Phyllis in the National Star Registry.  He gave the gift to her with a card that read, “Twinkle, twinkle, little wife.  Thank you for a perfect life!”

Phyllis distinguished herself academically which led to a stellar career in advertising and banking.   A dear friend reflects, “Phyllis was tiny, reserved, and soft-spoken, with an incisive mind and a dry wit.  She delighted in having people over for dinner and throwing large New Year’s parties. Her grateful dinner guests continue to savor the memory of her divine sticky pudding.  She was a creative, original thinker, and although she worked very well in a corporate setting, she was unconstrained by tradition.  Her cousin told of a visit with Phyllis to the Sistine Chapel.  When her cousin said she did not feel she was getting an adequate view of the ceiling by craning her neck, Phyllis pulled her to a place with less traffic and lay down on the floor looking up.  ‘Now we can see it!’”

Loved and esteemed by his colleagues, Tony’s genius lay in entertaining, educating and enchanting children and adults alike.  One of his colleagues tells the story about one of their first meetings as Sesame Street writers: When someone suggested that they “brainstorm,” Tony replied immediately, “Oh–if I had known there would be a brainstorm, I would have worn a braincoat!” If you have been around children at any time since the 1970s, you will undoubtedly have been fondly aware of Tony’s Sesame Street characters, songs and storylines.

For over three decades, Tony’s gifted writing and composing, along with his talent as a lyricist created Elmo’s Song, the Honkers, and Abby Cadabby, among many other memorable characters and familiar songs.  Tony also delighted his audience by co-writing three films: Follow that Bird, The Land Before Time and An American Tail.  The 22 Emmys he helped Sesame Street earn were among many won by the show since it first aired in 1969. Tony gave so much pleasure to so many people that he can truly be named a national treasure.  As of 2009, Sesame Street co-productions were broadcast in more than 140 countries.  Today, it is almost impossible to count the number of children who are enjoying and learning with Sesame Street all around the world!

Phyllis and Tony made their decisions about charitable contributions jointly to reflect their passions and interests.  During their lifetime, they were loyal and generous donors to the National Foundation for Cancer Research and it has been enormously gratifying to learn that they valued our mission to fund innovative cancer research enough to remember us in their estate plans.   Phyllis and Tony Geiss were extremely accomplished individuals, and as a team, their partnership was happy and harmonious. Their philanthropic work will enable NFCR to find new ways to prevent, detect and treat all types of cancer.  NFCR is enormously grateful and honored by their generosity and foresight.   Trustees of the Geiss Estate say “Phyllis and Tony deeply valued worldwide efforts in health care and protecting the environment.  They would have been greatly inspired and gratified to see and advance the work that NFCR is doing to unify discoveries in cancer research around the world and to integrate information on a global scale.”

Learning, having fun, and good health, are vital components for the well-being of anyone, anywhere.  NFCR will honor the Geiss’ generosity by promoting cancer research to ensure that people worldwide can enjoy good health, enabling them to lead productive and joyful lives.

From Elaine Currie, NFCR Donor Relations Officer

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A Simple Colonoscopy Could Save Your Life

This installment of the NFCR blog is by Liz Diamond, Major Gifts Officer with NFCR (she’s also the beguiling Brit that graces our voicemail!)

stop-colon-cancer

I have just had a colonoscopy and received a result that indicates I have no early signs of colon cancer.  This is my second excellent colonoscopy with a clean result and since I have no family history of colon cancer, I was advised to schedule another procedure in 10 years.

I am not a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV but my reason for telling you this is that I’m really hoping that you will consider having a colonoscopy too!  It could save your life.

If you are over 50 years of age, have a family history of colon cancer, are overweight or a smoker, schedule a visit to your general practitioner sooner rather than later to see when a colonoscopy is indicated for you.  (50 years old is the age that guidelines tell us to have our 1st colonoscopy for early detection.) Colon cancer is the development of cancer from the colon or the rectum, and it is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.  I happen to live in Maryland and in my state, colon cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

COLON CANCER IS OFTEN TIMES PREVENTABLE!!!!!!  If, during a colonoscopy procedure performed under anesthesia by a gastroenterologist, polyps or pre-cancerous polyps are discovered in your colon, they will be removed during the procedure.  I am stressing the word PRE because if these polyps were left to grow unchecked, some of them have the potential to become cancerous.

Don’t take that risk!  Cancer is more treatable when it is diagnosed in early stages. If you are 50 or over, go ahead and schedule your colonoscopy.  If you are under 50 and have a family history of colon cancer or cancer polyps, or if you are African-American, then you may be advised to have colonoscopies starting at an earlier age than 50 and having them at shorter intervals than ten years.

In the immortal words of a certain ad – JUST DO IT! – make that appointment.   I am glad I did.  Even if my result had not been as favorable, my doctor and I would have taken further steps to prevent me from getting a colon cancer diagnosis.

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