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The Crisis of Funding

Our mission is pretty simple and straightforward – to raise as much money as possible for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in ten weeks. As part of that endeavor, however, we have taken a little bit different path than most teams. We have made it a point to understand the environment that LLS operates in by talking to patients, doctors and researchers. One of the biggest eye openers in that process has been my interview of Chris Park. It is recorded and posted on the “Featured Research” section of our site.

Much of Chris’s interview is technical. He talked about his project, the Park Center, in New York and about the new and exciting stem cell research. When I asked how close we were to a “cure” he responded that current therapies do not really “cure” cancer; rather they control it. For example, kinase inhibitors blocks the action of proteins that are activated abnormally in diseased cells. Chris’s research, however, takes a different approach and is focused on stem cells. Through stem cell research, Chris’s approach isolates and studies the diseased cells. Results are encouraging and the approach is promising, but funding is lacking.

Chris and researchers like him have traditionally relied on government funding of their research, primarily through the National Institute of Health (NIH). According to Chris, fifteen years ago, 15% to 25% of this type of research would receive an NIH grant. Now, only 6% to 8% of research projects get NIH funding. This comes at a time when there are promising new therapies on the horizon, and a delay in funding means a delay in treatments. For a leukemia patient, a delay could mean the difference between life and death.

Chris recognizes the importance of philanthropic organizations such as LLS in filling the gaps left by decreased governmental funding of cancer therapies, and that is why our mission is so urgent. We want to raise as much money as possible to research new techniques and develop new technologies. We believe a cure is possible, and with government funds lacking, the need for private support from donors like you has never been greater. Please give generously to our cause.


Marlon Rodrigues

Marlon Rodrigues

See the post by my friend Tiffany at:

Marlon Rodrigues

See the post by my friend Tiffany at:

And we are off….

On March 29 our campaign to raise money for The Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS) officially launched.  We now have ten weeks to raise money through letters, gatherings, events, auctions and …. more events.  The 2012 Man and Woman of the Year campaign is designed to raise money on behalf of our honorees, Alec Simas and Emme Webb, who have spent half their lives with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a particularly pernicious disease affecting mostly children. I had not met Alec and Emme when I agreed to raise funds for LLS, but meeting them and their parents and hearing their stories has changed my view of this campaign and our team’s objectives. We want to cure cancer.

We are Team “Motion to Dismiss” Cancer – a clever play on words to reflect that I am a lawyer (I wish I could claim credit for coming up with the name, but that was one of my more creative team members). It is not only a “motion to dismiss” that we are making, we are in “motion” to dismiss, with a 5K run/walk, a boot camp, a zumba and a salsa party planned. There will be no lack of motion in this endeavor.

And it is motion to dismiss “cancer,” not just leukemia and lymphoma (although that is where we are starting).  Because the blood is relatively accessible, blood cancer therapies may lead the way to other drugs that battle other types of cancer. Even now, leukemia therapies have been found effective against stomach cancers. When we cure leukemia, we will cure cancer. That’s right – I said cure cancer.

At the start, when people asked me what I hoped to accomplish by committing hundreds of hours to LLS, I would tell them that it was to raise money for research, which will be used to develop drugs that fight cancer and improve quality of life. That was before I talked to the LLS personnel who direct the funds and the scientists who actually do the research. Now I tell people that we want to help cure cancer. And they look at me and say something like “you mean you want to help develop new drugs?” And I say, “No, we are going to cure cancer – the plague of the 21st century – in our lifetimes.”  It is that significant.  What we are doing is that big.

Even now, patients are alive because of the therapies that LLS has helped fund. Google “Gleevec” for an example of a powerful drug. Some of these therapies “target” cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone. Some bolster the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer cells. Some even make the body’s immune system smarter about how it fights cancer cells. And now, there is talk about cancer “vaccines.” These are exciting times for treatments and it is going to take work, positive “toward” motivations and, of course, money.

I hope you can hit the “Donate Now” button which will take you to the LLS official page and help us fund this research. I also hope you can join us for some of our events during the next ten weeks. I hope to see you in “motion” to dismiss cancer.