20th Annual Walk for Hope raises funds for cancer treatments to benefit women everywhere
July 19, 2016 | by Denise Heady
For two decades, thousands of cancer survivors, patients, families and friends have participated in City of Hope’s annual Walk for Hope to not only raise money and awareness for women’s cancers, but to support and honor mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends who have fought - or even will fight - women's cancers.
The first walk, in 1996, was a small affair and now, the Walk for Hope series has raised more than $38 million for City of Hope's Women's Cancers Program - benefiting research, treatment and education programs for all cancers affecting women.
“I don't walk for any one reason,” said walker and donor Yvonne Bernal. “I walk on behalf of ALL women who have had or will experience breast cancer. There is pride in knowing that we are working together to create a world where cancer will no longer be a threat to women or rob them of another year with their loved ones. I walk in an effort to help make this world a better, brighter, happier place to be. I walk for them.”
At City of Hope, donors help our researchers create new cancer treatments that benefit women everywhere. Our physicians and scientist are developing treatments with fewer and milder side effects, creating medicines that more precisely target women’s cancers, exploring the cancer-fighting potential of superfoods such as mushrooms and blueberries, and examining the ways women can reduce their risk of cancer.
Here are just a few ways Walk for Hope has aided our physicians and researchers who are dedicated to improving the care and treatment of cancer patients everywhere through leading-edge, world-renowned research.
Developing innovative treatments for breast cancer patients
- Joanne Mortimer, M.D., the Baum Family Professor in Women's Cancers, is working on a new way of identifying which breast cancer patients might respond better to specific treatments.
- Using a novel PET imaging agent, 64Cu-DOTA trastuzumab, developed at City of Hope, Mortimer and her colleagues use PET scans to highlight areas of the body with HER2 positive cancer cells.
- This approach improves therapy by identifying whether a woman should be treated with HER2-specific treatments — as well as where the cancer has spread, information that biopsies from a single site can’t provide.
Identifying risks and disparities in Latina women
- As a leading genetics researcher, Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., has devoted his career to helping people and populations at increased risk for developing cancer because of family history or personal risk factors.
- His research is focused on investigating disparities in cancer incidence among Latina women, including the role of BRCA gene mutations, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- He led a groundbreaking study that revealed that BRCA mutations may be present in 25 percent of U.S. Hispanic women, leading to calls for increased genetic testing and counseling.
- Weitzel is at the forefront of developing low-cost genetic screening materials as well as training doctors and nurses for underserved populations in Peru, Colombia and Mexico.
Improving treatment and care for seniors
Cancer care has few protocols for the elderly. As director of City of Hope’s Cancer and Aging Research Program, Arti Hurria, M.D., is working to change that by creating new tools to better evaluate the health of seniors diagnosed with cancer. A professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research and Department of Population Sciences, she is involved in leading-edge research into the effects of chemotherapy on older patients with breast cancer.
Her parents, both doctors, were a key influence on her pursuing a medical career and on her specialty. “My parents emigrated from India, where older adults are very revered,” said Hurria. “I became a geriatrician first and have always loved caring for older people. They bring their whole life experiences, stories and wisdom.
Later, I realized how little data there was about caring for older adults with cancer and decided to try to bridge these two fields.”
Providing more than just medical care to patients
Cancer patients need, and deserve, more than medical care. They and their families need high-quality supportive care - that is, care that addresses their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
An international pioneer in integrated care, the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope provides a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and numerous other caregivers who work together to assess what cancer patients and their families need, and then fulfill those needs.
Specialized programs, such as art, music and pet therapy, have been created to help minimize the impact of illness, manage its symptoms, and deepen the meaning of life for patients and their loved ones.
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