Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Team Sarcoma and the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge

In these days of shrinking research budgets and increased belt tightening, the amount of government support for research into more rare disorders, such as sarcomas or childhood cancer, is steadily falling. This increases the burden on private foundations to pick up the slack.

I wanted to take this opportunity to support two very important endeavors: Team Sarcoma, and the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge .

Team Sarcoma is the brainchild of Bruce Shriver, who runs the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative. This is a private foundation honoring the memory of Bruce’s daughter, Liddy, who fought Ewing’s sarcoma from 2002 until her death in 2004. Bruce and his wife Beverly started this foundation to provide support to other individuals and families struggling with various sarcomas. In addition to an incredibly informative website, The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative funds laboratory research into the basic biology of sarcomas, in the hopes that their support will lead to the development of novel therapies that will one day spell the end of children and young adults dying of sarcomas.

Recognizing that sarcomas attract relatively little attention from the oncology community (representing only 1% of adult cancers), Bruce has also devoted his energy to raising awareness, predominantly through Team Sarcoma. The Team Sarcoma 2007 Initiative involves hundreds of people in 13 countries worldwide who are participating in more than 50 events designed to increase awareness of sarcomas (and hopefully raise money as well). The flagship event is the Team Sarcoma 2007 Bike Tour, going on now through July 21 in the Lake Champlain area in Vermont and New York.

I came across this video on YouTube. It features a Team Sarcoma 2007 member, Melissa Kramer, speaking about the bike ride and her reasons for participating. Although the voice is out of sync with the video, it is still an important video to see. After you watch, consider going to her website, www.ts2007mel.com, where you can find more information, including ways to contact your leaders in congress regarding increasing (rather than decreasing) funding for sarcoma research.

Finally, my fellow blogger, Sam Blackman , a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow from Boston, will be riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a 192-mile ride from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA. All of the money raised by the Pan-Mass Challenge goes to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I rode my bike frequently and for long distances as a teenager (before I succumbed to the allure of a car), so I can tell you quite honestly that riding 192 miles is quite a feat. I wish him well!

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