Paul Balfour talks about Progress in Cancer Research


I just read the following blog post from Paul Balfour.  Paul captains the Phillips Hager & North team that raised a total of $292,000 for cancer research at the BC Cancer Foundation last year.  This year Paul has already raised over $60,000 personally, and his team will surpass $350,000 raised.

On the evening before our Ride to Conquer Cancer, this strikes at the heart of why we Ride.  Thanks for the inspiration Paul!

Progress

by Paul Balfour on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 @ 3:41 PM

I think one thing that we in the fundraising community hasn’t done a very good job of is communicating just how much great progress is being made in fighting, and in many cases, curing cancer.

Typically, we set out to fundraise by talking about how awful the disease is (and it is, make no mistake about that) and how incidence rates are rising etc. and but I think perhaps by doing that people get the impression that little progress is being made or that cancer is starting to rage out of control.

Incidence rates for the population as a whole have been increasing but for mostly the simple reason that we are living longer and we have gotten much, much better at preventing deaths in other areas. Far fewer people are dying from heart attacks and strokes, far fewer are dying in car crashes in fact the decline in mortality rates for just about everything is quite remarkable. So, in a sort of good news/bad news story, the increase in incidence rates is concentrated in the older segment of the population living longer and having the chance to develop cancer in the first place and the drop in mortality rates in just about everything else.

But progress in cancer treatment is being made, year in and year out. It’s indisputable. Consider a few observations.

Childhood leukemia used to be fatal 90% of the time. Now it’s a 90% survival rate. Because of research. Testicular cancer (Lance Armstrong) used to be a very serious disease. It still is, but the survival rate is now 96%. Due to research.

Outcomes in breast and prostate cancer have improved in recent years to close to the 90% level. Thanks to research.

There is a disease called CML (Chronic myelogenous leukemia) that used to be pretty much fatal. Scientists knew it was caused by a mutated gene and one day (okay over a period of a couple of years) a drug was discovered called Gleevec and further refined to a pill form. So, you used to die from this cancer and now … as long as you take a pill every day, you’re fine. Cool. All due to research.

What’s also neat is that this same drug works like a charm on a type of nasty stomach cancer. Here’s where it gets really interesting: the two cancers’ cells look absolutely different under the microscope but the same drug “cures” them. Why is that? Well, these two cancers have that same genetic mutation in common.

So, what if we could do a better job of analyzing the genome of the patient for clues as to the causes for cancer and come up with other breakthroughs?

Well guess what the BC Cancer Agency is doing? Exactly that! In fact the Genome Science Centre here in Vancouver is a leader (many say the leader) in this area. Ask a scientist you know sometime how hard it is to get published in the science journal Nature. It’s unbelievably hard. Three significant breakthroughs by the BC Cancer Agency and the Genome Science Centre have been published in Nature in the past twelve months. How many other centres have had three major findings in that period of time? Um, none actually. Two? None.

Pretty impressive I say, right here in little ol’ Vancouver. Also, it’s an open book here we share that research with the rest of Canada and the world, make no mistake about that.

But it takes money. It takes a lot of money to keep this progress going. There are also plenty of patients who are on the wrong side of those survivorship rates and they really need help. There are some tumour groups where we have made very little progress for decades (brain and pancreatic in particular) using conventional therapies my guess is the genome will prove to be the key here. It will take money to do that though.

Please support me if you can, by donating here or at the link below. No donation is too small … and as my friend Michael likes to say, no donation is to big!

Thanks for reading this.

…and thank you Paul!  Here’s a link to his Ride page should you want to make a donation.

http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Vancouver2010/1742352005?px=1759724&pg=personal&fr_id=1331

Alberto European Extreme Style, $1,250 Conquer Cancer Sponsorship


Extreme Style Cycling Team lines up
Extreme Style Cycling Team at the start of the 2009 Ride to Conquer Cancer

Our cycling team has been just blowing the doors off in fundraising.  I can’t say enough about the hard work of everyone on the Extreme Style cycling team, and the over 600 generous sponsors who have given to battle this terrible disease.   By next Sunday we will be well on our way to beating last year’s total of $90,000 raised for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  We have over 25 riders and generous sponsorship from the wonderful people at Alberto European Extreme Style.

Because everyone is rocking the fundraising so well, we have the ability to share with someone who may not have the connections or resources that we do.  We were thinking of all the people affected by cancer here in BC, and the hundreds of people who had committed themselves to the Ride and to raising funds for the BC Cancer Agency and the groundbreaking research they do.

So here’s our idea…Alberto European Extreme Style is going to match funds to enable someone to ride that wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, despite their best efforts to meet the minimum fundraising threshold.

The Offer

If you know an inspiring person in Vancouver who is registered for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, please nominate them for this award.  Our sponsor is offering up to $1,250 matching funds for the Ride to Conquer Cancer for one deserving cancer survivor or caregiver who has been unable to raise their minimum.

To nominate, please go to our Extreme Style Cycling Team facebook page and post the nomination to the Wall, providing a link to their Ride page in the post.  We’ll decide on Tuesday June 15th next week. 

Here’s our Facebook Page:

 http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Extreme-Style-Cycling-Team/318451084264

 Hope to see you on the ride, and please spread this around to everyone you know who is registered, inspiring, struggling to meet their fundraising goal, and is ready to Ride down to Seattle!

Explaining the Team Give’r Logo


Our Team Give'r Cycling Logo

This is the story of Team Give’r and our wicked mean logo.

In 2009 our Give’r Cycling Team was sponsored by Alberto European Extreme Style for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.   Last year we raised over $90,000 and this year we are already at $65,000 and growing every day.

Our super-talented designer in residence Dean put together a beautiful blue and red kit (shown below) to represent for the brand, and we found room for the Team Give’r logo on the shoulder. 

To go back to the beginning, our group of friends had dubbed ourselves “Team Give’r “ after we had lazed our way through the first few days of the Juan de Fuca trek.  We awoke late on the final morning with the realization that we were in danger of missing our lift out of the bush.  When asked how the hell we were going to make it in time, the answer came pretty easily…Just Give’r.  The name stuck.

Since we have some new riders and countless new supporters on the team this year, I thought it made sense to explain the genesis of the logo and what it means…beyond the fact that it just looks mean and cool, of course.

The logo is an original cancer survivor symbol that I explained to Dean in the form of a story, which he then built. 

The skull and crossbones, commonly found on your household cleansers, represents the life-saving poison of chemotherapy.  It’s also been used for centuries as a symbol of resurrection, with the crossed bones being a nod to the cross of Christian origin. The eye patch is a symbol of Wisdom from legend, coming from the old tale of the Norse God Odin who is said to have plucked out an eye in return for a sip from the well of knowledge  (you’ll have to come up with your own conclusions for why it is over the left eye…that’s a tightly held secret that I will only share over several drinks).  The eyepatch is there because my own experience with survivorship is that it forces wisdom on you…pushing aside the things that just don’t matter and bringing priorities into focus.

And finally the wings.  I could say that they represent freedom, or the soaring feeling of surviving a deadly threat…but the truth is that Dean thought they looked cool.  And that’s hard to argue with.

Team Give’r was made to channel the athletic, creative and compassionate energies of our wonderful network of friends into a way to give back.  We’re in year 2 now and as of this writing the team has raised $160,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  Not bad.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us…our caregivers, family, friends and sponsors.  We ride so that some day no one need fear death from a cancer diagnosis.

For more info on the Ride and our ride from Vancouver to Seattle, check out my Ride page here:  http://bit.ly/AndrewRidePage  and the Team Page here: http://bit.ly/extremestyle 

Team Extreme Style at the finish line in Seattle

Hope to see you on the roads!