This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to be present for the UCCRF Women's Board 50th Grand Auction. The black tie affair was held at the Four Seasons Chicago, it was gorgeous. Since its inception, the Women's Board has raised over 16 million dollars. These funds have been used to support research, enhance lab and hospital facilities, and fund fellowships in Cancer Biology. All of these advancements have lead to breakthroughs in cancer prevention and care.
To be honest, before I had a loved one with cancer, I never gave much thought to these types of fundraisers. Its so easy to think "that will never happen to me". I remember watching the movie Stepmom in the late 90's and thinking thank God that would never happen to me. But never say never. The unfortunate truth is that cancer will touch every single one of us in our lifetime. It could be your grandparent, your friend, your spouse, your sibling, your aunt or uncle, your parent...or maybe even yourself.
The thing that really touched me about this auction was the sheer numbers. 50 years, this board has been supporting cancer research. Getting diagnosed with cancer in 2016 is MUCH different than getting diagnosed in 1966. This doesn't happen by accident. It is because of all the diligent hard work by those fundraising and supporting disease research. Back then, there was pretty much nothing anyone could do with a cancer diagnosis. Now, the options are much more tailored and specific. It has crossed my mind more than once, "what if my Mom was diagnosed just 5 years later?" Maybe there would have been a new clinical trial. Maybe there would have been a new drug on the market that could have prolonged her life until the next drug that may have been closer to a cure.
We can all play the "what if" game. To be frank, that gets you nowhere. But what DOES make progress is attending or helping fundraisers that support research. My Mom had a very rare type of breast cancer. And though she fought for as long and as hard as her body and modern medicine would allow, there was still just not enough humanly available to fight her cancer cells.
The more people that are able donate to research. The more we donate our time to worthwhile causes, the closer we get to medical advances.
The 50th Grand Auction had a special entertainment guest, Sara Bareilles. Her voice is INCREDIBLE. Admittedly, I was one of the oldest ones there volunteering for the event. The volunteers on either side of me were both 1st year cancer biologists at the University of Chicago. It was sobering to think that I was standing in between two women who could very well find a new drug that saves lives. I wanted to thank them for choosing this career path, thank them for the lives they were going to save in the future, but inevitably just gushed about Sara with them and I guess thats ok. :-)
My purpose for this post is to let those who are still fighting know that even when you're not paying attention or asking for help, there are people in this world who are still fighting for you. I absolutely love that this board is not slowing down efforts after 50 years and its hard to wrap my brain around the amount of dollars they have raised in the name of eradicating this disease.
My friend Kate phrased it very well, "fifty years of fighting cancer - and hopefully far, far fewer than fifty until we find a cure". Our progress has been nothing short of amazing. Let's keep that momentum and say goodbye to this disease once and for all.