2010-06-04 / Columnists

East End Matters...

Join The Fight To End Cancer – Take Part In Relay For Life
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

For those of us who have, for years, put our feet to the pavement taking part in walks and runs; for researchers who have spent countless hours in labs and for those touched by cancer, could it be that a major breakthrough is on the horizon? A May 30 article on the US News and World Reports website (http://health.usnews.com/healthnews/ familyhealth/cancer/articles/ 2010/05/30/breast-cancer-vaccine-possible scientists-say.htmlan) cites the possibility of a vaccine to end breast cancer. As a breast cancer survivor, the article took my breath away. A study by Dr. Vincent Tuohy, an immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Center said research has shown a vaccine to work in mice. The next stage is testing the vaccine in humans, which could begin later this year.

“We believe that this vaccine will someday be used to prevent breast cancer in adult women in the same way that vaccines have prevented many childhood diseases,” said Tuohy, in the article. “If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental. We could eliminate breast cancer.”

Eliminate breast cancer! That is something those of us who have been through the battle and advocating for awareness about this disease have long been praying for.

Since I was diagnosed in 1995, research has brought so many advances. Now the possibility of this. But it couldn’t have come without the help of regular people like you and me. Throughout the years, millions of people have taken part in American Cancer Society events such as Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer; Susan G. Koman’s Race for the Cure and Avon Cancer Walks. Millions of dollars over the years have been raised for advocacy and research.

I bring all of this up now, not only because of Dr. Tuohy’s announcement, but because on June 12 the American Cancer Society will host the 11th Annual Rockaway Riis Park Relay for Life. Last year approximately 200 people attended the event. So far, according to the Riis Park Relay for Life website, 106 people – 19 teams – are registered. The goal this year is to raise $55,000.

‘Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.’ That is the mantra of those who participate in the Relay for Life. The overnight event celebrates those who have battled cancer, remembers those loved ones we have lost and fights back against the disease. This is the 26th year of Relay for Life, which has hundreds of events across the country and in 19 other countries.

There are several ways you can help. Join The Wave’s team and walk with us. Stop by our Relay for Life website and give what you can, or stop by the newspaper office and buy a Relay for Life card that we will display with your name and donation on it. You can go to www.relayforlife.org/riisparkNY, click on sign up, then on the next page enter search for a team and enter the name ‘Wave.’ It is only $10 to join a team. That’s not a lot of money when you figure you are saving lives. If you would like to donate, again go to the above website, but this time click the donate button, enter Wave when asked the name of the team and then donate whatever you wish.

The recent findings are hopeful, but scientists couldn’t have come this far – nor can they continue their work – without the necessary funds. As Dr. Tuohy said, “We could eliminate breast cancer.” But he and other researchers can’t continue their work without the monies to support them. There are researchers throughout the world seeking cures for the various types of cancer that exist, and it is annual walks and runs and other events held by ACS, Koman and others that put money in the coffers of these unsung, behind the scenes heroes who work day in and day out to save lives.

Come together with your fellow Rockaway residents on June 12 at Riis Park. Remember, as the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer slogan says, ‘Hope Starts Here.’ It starts with us. Now if you will excuse me, I have a donation to make. Why don’t you join me?

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