Conquering Cancer in Chicago

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Conquer Cancer Foundation has invested in 59 Chicago-area cancer researchers and eight Chicago institutions. This means world-class healthcare for Chicagoland and cancer breakthroughs for the world. 

Chicagoland: Conquering the System

Conquering the System

"The most challenging part of conquering cancer is appreciating the complexity of the disease, harnessing our diagnostic capabilities today, and employing an effective treatment strategy given
the difficulties of our health care system," says Lucy Godley, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine and human genetics and an oncologist at the University of Chicago. 

But Dr. Godley doesn't let hurdles keep her from patients in need. When she needed funds to continue exploring information on  leukemia, she applied for and received a 2003 Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award. And, when she learned via email about a girl named Ashley with bone marrow cancer in Mexico, she found a way to get Ashley insurance in the U.S for genetic testing, which included a trip to Mexico for Dr.Godley to test Ashley's family, and a stem cell transplant. 

Ashley's recovery is promising, and Dr.Godley continues to conquer cancer in Chicago and beyond. 

Research funding like the Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award  prepared Dr. Godley (left)  to provide the advanced care her patient Ashley (right) needed to conquer leukemia. 

Donor-supported research matters to pediatric cancer doctors

Donor research fuels pediatric cancer treatments

Pediatric cancer research receives among the lowest percentage of federal dollars, making the donor-supported research grants available especially important to the physcians committed to helping children conquer cancer.

"While the NIH supports longitudinal, long-term projects, they tend to avoid funding high-risk, high-reward projects in favor of small interval improvements," says Dr. Mark Applebaum, a 2016 Conquer Cancer Young Invetigator Award recipieint. "The wonderful thing about philanthropic giving, is that donors want to fund projects that tend to be a bit outof- the-box, but with potential to make large advances in how we diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer."

Abblebuam's mentor at the Univerity of Chicago, Dr. Sue Cohn, agrees, and explains that caring for childhood cancer survivors goes beyond just treatment for cancer. 

"While we have made great advances in treating pediatric cancer, unfortunately, we still are not able to cure all of our patients," says Cohn, a Conquer Cancer Board Member.  "Many children develop organ dysfunction that require additional medical treatments. Perhaps one of the most devastating side effects of our treatments is the development of subsequent cancers.  Donor- supported research provides the dollars desperately needed to conduct the studies that will lead to new
discoveries and more effective treatments."

Research explored by Dr. Cohn and Dr. Applebaum in Chicago help children everywhere conquer cancer. Photo credit: Andre LaCour Photography


Chicagoland: Donating to Cancer Research Makes a Difference for Patients

Donating to Cancer Research Makes a Difference for Patients

The donation you make in support of cancer research today could lead to a new or improved treatment tomorrow.  Donations to Conquer Cancer light the way for the brightest scientists in oncology to explore all areas of cancer, helping all types of patients.

Like 98 percent of all Conquer Cancer grantees, Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, who received a Young Investigator Award in 1993, has committed his career to discovering new ways to help people with cancer. Dr. Platanias studies acute leukemia, but his research extends to other areas of disease. The award-winning researcher credits donor-supported grants for fueling the vital studies needed to improve treatments.

“Philanthropy allows us to do the innovative, out-of-the-box research that ultimately leads to breakthroughs,” says Platanias. “When this knowledge is translated into better cancer care, it has a major impact. All of the exciting advances being made today are the result of research.”

Dr. Leonidas C. Platanias credits donor-supported research as the driving force for cancer breakthroughs.
Photo credit: Andre LaCour

Chicagoland: When Conquering Cancer is a Waiting Game

When Conquering Cancer is a Waiting Game

There isn’t always a timeline for conquering cancer.  Every patient’s plan is unique.

Ten years ago, Jaden* was a single mom with a rare form of advanced stage nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. She was 26 years old, and she couldn’t even begin treatment until her cancer progressed.

“One of the hardest conversations is to tell someone that they have an advanced blood cancer,” said Sonali M. Smith, MD, director of the lymphoma program at The University of Chicago. “Living with an active cancer and not treating is very anxiety-provoking and stressful.”

Dr. Smith tracked Jaden’s disease for 10 years it as it transformed in to a diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. In 2017, Jaden began receiving intense chemotherapy.

“We expect a full remission,” says Dr. Smith.

* Not patient’s real name

Dr. Sonali Smith has been an ASCO member since 2000 and is the current chair of ASCO’s Women in Oncology Work Group.
Photo: Kasia Jarosz

Chicagoland: Outsmarting Cancer with Immunotherapy

Outsmarting Cancer with Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a type of cancer treatment that boosts the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Scientists like Randy Sweis, MD, an instructor at the University of Chicago, uses research to learn more about this emerging treatment, which is improving care for patients like John.

“John is an incredible man who came to us a couple of years ago when there were no more standard options for treating his cancer,” says Sweis, a 2017 Lilly Young Investigator Award recipient . “He’s had an astounding response to treatment and now tells me that people don’t believe him when he tells them he’s a stage IV cancer patient.”

Immunotherapy research is allowing Dr. Sweis to explore future cures and allowing John to continue working and spending time with family.

Dr. Randy Sweis with John, his clinical trial patient. Photo: Andrew LaCour

The number of people diagnosed with cancer this year could fill up Wrigley Field nearly 39 times.

Chicagoland: Spotlight

Dr. Jane Churpek
Dr. Jane Churpek

"I often see individuals who share devastating stories of seeing their sisters, brothers, parents, or children suffer from a blood or bone marrow cancer only to now find themselves diagnosed with the same disease.

For most, the anser to "how could this happen" would have simply been "I don't know." However, my clinic and research has already begun to change this message to "here's what we know now and here's what we're doing to figure this out."

- Jane Churpek

Jacquelyne Gaddy

"I truly want to express a strong sense of appreciation, because I think having this opportunity at such an early stage really has developed the type of physician that I will become."
- Jacquelyne Gaddy