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Making a Splash for Cancer Research
CHORI Center for Cancer Chosen as Beneficiary of Swim Across America’s San Francisco Bay Swim and Pool Swim Fundraiser

“It really speaks to the reputation we’ve estab-lished in cancer research, as well as the compelling nature of the problem, the heartbreaking thought of children afflicted by cancer.”

CHORI is delighted to announce that Swim Across America (SAA) is donating proceeds from this year’s September and October San Francisco Bay and Pool Swim to the Center for Cancer Research. A national organization with the mission of raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events, the SAA sponsored a 1.5 mile swim in the San Francisco Bay on October 18th, as well as pool swims in the area for those less inclined to take to the bay.

“We’re a fledgling center, but we’ve very enthusiastic about what we’re doing and very grateful that we’ve been named a beneficiary,” says CHORI scientist, Julie Saba, MD, PhD.

Research over the last 20 years has greatly improved the outcome of children diagnosed with leukemia and many kinds of solid tumors, showing that cancer research can save lives, but the work is far from over.

“While there has been steady progress in basic and clinical cancer research over the past decades, SAA recognizes that the genetic complexity of cancer and its ability to develop resistance requires us to strive for an even greater understanding of the problem,” says Dr. Saba. “What we’d really like to be able to do is to define the specific genes responsible for each child’s cancer so that we can then provide designer therapy that will result in 100% cure rates.”

Current research in CHORI’s Center for Cancer Research spans the full spectrum, from identifying cancer causing genes and how they function, to exploring the best ways of utilizing existing therapies like bone marrow transplantation, to working toward the development of entirely new treatments like cancer vaccines. The SAA funds will be used to expand existing programs and core facilities, as well as to support the career development of junior researchers through SAA fellowships.

The amount of funding, however, depended on how many swimmers wriggled into their suits in September and October. Swimmers collected pledges for reaching their individually determined swimming goals, but no one had to be a swimmer to raise money for cancer research. CHORI scientists clambered into pools across the bay themselves, swimming as Team CHORI to collectively log miles as a group.

“I swam a mile, and I’m not even a swimmer. I’m just a not drowner,” says Dr. Saba, who swam the 65 laps in nearly one go.

With the support of many other not-drowners – and some seriously dedicate swimmers – including 14 Olympian swimmers who came from as far away as New Jersey to join in the event—cancer research supporters also came out in droves for the Saturday, October 18th Bay Swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to Crissy Field Beach.

“We were all gathered together in the center of the yacht that brought us to the launch site while people told these amazing stories about who inspired each of them to swim,” says Dr. Saba, who spoke at the conclusion of the event in order to represent the CHORI Cancer Center. The group included friends and family members of patients, cancer survivors, olympic swimmers, and water polo champions. “And then in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge they just started launching into the water, some in wetsuits and some without, forming in this line of blue and yellow caps. The conditions were harsh, very cold and very choppy and they just got in there and swam. It was incredible.”

All in all, the turnout for the Bay and pool area swims generated hundreds of thousands of dollars which will be distributed between CHORI’s Center for Cancer Research and the University of California San Francisco cancer survivorship clinic, thanks to the many swimmers and non-swimmers alike of all ages and backgrounds who jumped into the deep end for the fight against cancer.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM

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