Events Update, Spring and Summer 2013

Posted in Events

It was an exciting spring and summer for Elizabeth’s Hope and the Children’s Brain Tumor Project! At Williams College this spring, Mack Von Mehren and the men’s lacrosse team dedicated their season to Elizabeth, raising money from supporters with every goal scored. The team’s April 20 home game was a tribute to Elizabeth. Thanks so much to Mack, and to everyone who contributed to this effort! In April, we visited Denison College for a pre-graduation celebration and to attend a “Lax for Liz” game. Both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams held fund-raisers for Elizabeth’s Hope, organized by Molly Cornbrooks. This should have been Elizabeth’s graduation year, so our visit was a bittersweet and deeply moving experience for us. Elizabeth was remembered in the graduation program in May, as was another young woman who died of cancer. We are so grateful to everyone at Denison for their numerous fund-raisers, even as as we mourn for all Elizabeth missed out on. June brought the Second Annual Ride for Elizabeth’s Hope at Soul Cycle in Greenwich, organized by Amanda Hudson along with our intrepid Volunteer Coordinator, Tessa Naso. We couldn’t help but think back to the first ride, also organized by Tessa, when Elizabeth was still with us. Little did we know that day that it was to be the first of many events in support of the Children’s Brain Tumor Project. A million thanks to you, Tessa, for all you do! In July, Tessa hosted an exuberant gathering of our college Ambassadors in New York City. The fundraising these young men and women have done for Elizabeth’s Hope is beyond amazing; they have carried Elizabeth’s name and story to everything from entire field hockey and lacrosse seasons to tennis tournaments in her honor. Even more exciting, those Ambassadors are now committed to pairing up with recent graduates of Bronxville High School to help pass the torch to them and carry on this important work. Thank you, Ambassadors! In August, our good friend Tom Jones fulfilled his lifelong dream of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and we were honored that he dedicated his climb to Elizabeth. Tom trained hard for his climb but wasn’t sure he’d make it to the summit—but make it he did, carrying an Elizabeth’s Hope flag with him to unfurl at the peak. In addition, Tom rallied friends and colleagues from around the world to donate to Elizabeth’s Hope in support of his climb, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Children’s Brain Tumor Project. Thank you so much to Tom and to all the donors who contributed to the effort! See events from earlier in...

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Family Update: Fall 2013

Posted in About EH, From the Minter Family, Updates

September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, represented by the color gold. Did you know that? We didn’t until two years ago, when we were at the hospital for Elizabeth’s treatment and the staff was giving out small gold ribbons. Why is it that we know pink ribbons stand for breast cancer but are ignorant about gold ribbons? Why is it that we parents, our children’s best advocates, have failed to create greater awareness and urgency for funding of new treatments for our children, who have decades of potential and contributions ahead of them? It’s not because we aren’t trying. It’s because the subject matter is raw and unpleasant. Pediatric cancer is on emotional par with torture, rape, incest, abuse, and poverty — subjects we would prefer not to discuss. It’s also a topic that makes us feel like failures. Thousands of children die and suffer each as a result of cancer. We feel helpless to stop the random killing of about 50 children each week (the equivalent of two classrooms) by a relentless serial murderer. Pediatric cancer was not even on our radar screen three years ago. Sometimes we wish it weren’t now. Each time we hear of a child with a new diagnosis, we are knifed in the heart and relive Elizabeth’s nightmare. We would love to be innocent again, but we will never be. Pediatric cancer is bad, but a rare inoperable brain tumor has to among the worst diagnoses. “Inoperable brain cancer” really means “pray for a miracle.” “Rare” means there is no treatment protocol and few clinical trials. A tumor in the brain means that the patient will be robbed of their physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities. Inoperable brain cancer is more than an inconvenient or painful disease. Thus we continue the work of Elizabeth’s Hope, our daughter’s dream of a cure for rare and inoperable brain cancers. Elizabeth was admitted into hospice in October 2012, just 9 months after her diagnosis. We were told that she had a few months to live at most. She had started work on Elizabeth’s Hope in June, and we were anxious to launch the fund while she was still present. We launched in mid-November 2012. Elizabeth hung on. Dr. Greenfield paid her a bedside visit over the Christmas /New Year’s holidays. It was an important visit, but Elizabeth was sad when he left our home. She was disappointed because she’d had the innocent hope that he would come with the cure that very day that would free her from her steady decline. In this day and age, it is shocking to us that the only hope for so many patients is a miracle. We know we can do...

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Children’s Brain Tumor Project Lab Update: Fall 2013

Posted in About the CBTP, Research, Updates

By Jeffrey Greenfield, MD, PhD Director, Children’s Brain Tumor Project We have some extremely exciting news to report this month: Yujie Huang, PhD, of our Children’s Brain Tumor Project laboratory, has been awarded a three-year, $400,000 grant from the Department of Defense. Dr. Huang was awarded the grant for a project called “Characterizing and Targeting Bone Marrow-Derived Inflammatory Cells in Driving the Malignancy and Progression of Childhood Astrocytic Brain Tumors.” Gliomatosis cerebri is one of the most difficult — if not the most difficult — to cure of all astrocytic brain tumors, so getting this project funded is a significant step forward for us. News like this makes it more and more clear how critical the support of Elizabeth’s Hope is to us. Department of Defense grants are not easy to secure, and an award of this size required us to file an application with supporting data based on previous research. That data assures the DoD that its grant money is going to projects that are based on sound science and have good chance of success. How could our lab have done the foundational work, and generated the data, if not for you, our loyal supporters? Even more exciting, some of the data used in support of this grant application was generated by Emma Vartanian, who joined the lab on a summer fellowship from the Saint Baldrick’s Foundation. As you may recall from our Spring 2013 newsletter, Emma’s project uses mouse models to study the effects of an inhibitor drug on gliomas, with the goal of preventing low-grade tumors from progressing into fatal ones. If we can learn how to stop bone marrow cells from signaling the distant tumor to grow, we may be able to keep low-grade gliomas from developing into high-grade tumors like gliomatosis cerebri. Under Dr. Huang’s guidance this summer, Emma and the team initiated the transplant phase of the study and performed bone marrow transplants on more than 20 animals. Now those mice will be treated with an experimental inhibitor drug to test its ability to limit tumor growth. As the treatment progresses in Dr. Huang’s newly funded phase of this study, our research team will be able to analyze how the transplanted bone marrow-derived cells move and participate in tumor progression. We already have histological and radiographic data, in the form of brain tissue slides and MRI images, suggesting far better tumor outcomes and survival patterns in drug-treated transplant mice, as compared to untreated control animals. This is exciting stuff indeed. I am so energized by how our work is all coming together. With Elizabeth’s Hope making our lab work possible, we gave St. Baldrick’s the confidence to award us the summer fellowship. With...

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