I love my work for the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation. I love receiving cards and letters filled with hopes and dreams for the future. Several weeks ago I opened a letter that filled me with such emotion it brought tears to my eyes, and I immediately shared it with the team here. I would like to share a portion of the letter (with the approval of the family) with you too. I hope that it will inspire you as it inspired me. Together we can make a difference in the fight against bile duct cancer.
In March of 2008, Thomas E. Whitten Jr. passed away from cholangiocarcinoma. His family has been a great support to the foundation, it always stirs a lot of emotion in me when families are able to find a way to turn their personal grief into hope for others; this is what the Whitten family has done and continues to do.
Often times we think of our families as those with whom we live. However, most of us actually spend the largest part of our day with another family, those with whom we work. It’s Thomas Whitten’s work family who sent the letter that I want to share with you today. The letter was from John P. Pearl – the President of Pearl Automotive, Peoria, IL. It states, “Tom [Whitten] was the President and General Manager of Pearl Automotive, and since his passing we have allocated a portion of the profit from every vehicle sold at our dealerships to helping fight this terrible disease. The enclosed funds represent the total proceeds through our efforts.”
The foundation received proceeds in excess of $15,000.
We can never give enough thanks to the families, both at home and in the workplace, who continue to assist us in our efforts to improve & increase collaboration, understanding (advocacy), research and education for bile duct cancer.
Once again I would like to thank Mr. Pearl and the Pearl Automotive family for their generosity of spirit.
Last month, The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation partnered with CanLiv: The Hepatobiliary Cancers Foundation in the inaugural Biliary Tract and Gallbladder Cancers Symposium in Alexandria, Virginia. This event brought together pre-clinical researchers, clinical researchers, and advocates to spend the day discussing the current state of bile duct and gallbladder cancers research, and developing a strategy for moving forward. Researchers attending came from institutions around the world, including Alpert Medical School Brown University, Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Clinica Alemana Santiago Universidad de Chile, Columbia University Medical Center, Emory University, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Hollings Cancer Center, Indur Endoscopy and Gastro Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusettes General Hospital Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the National Cancer Center Japan, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, Princess Margaret Hospital, Thomas Jefferson University, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Universidad de la Frontera, University of Kansas Cancer Center, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. Private industry attendees includes representatives from Abbott Laboratories and Onyx Pharmaceuticals. Advocates attending the event included representatives from The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, CanLiv, the Cancer Information and Support Network, Target Cancer, as well as numerous survivors and caregivers. (pictured)
Participation at the meeting underscored the importance of collaboration amongst the interested stakeholders in bile duct and gallbladder cancers. On average, new treatments spend roughly 15-17 years navigating the complex development process from conception to FDA approval. When applying this standard development process to underserved cancers, such as bile duct cancer, the development timeframe can become even further exasperated. Challenges impeding progress in bile duct cancer include limited resources, poor clinical trial accrual, and fragmented impassioned stakeholders.
Participants at the conference focused on efforts for addressing the challenges and decreasing the timeframe for developing new treatments. Potential initiatives emerged from the event, including creation of a research consortium; advocating for the National Cancer Institute for increased funding for biliary tract and gallbladder cancers research; creation of a shared clinical trials database; creation of a patient treatment database; creation of a shared biospecimen bank; and investing in high through-put drug screening through the National Human Genome Research Institute, to name a few. The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and CanLiv are currently evaluating the various initiatives, and mapping a strategy for moving these initiatives forward.
Special thanks are extended to Dr. Melanie Thomas and CanLiv for inviting The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation to collaborate in this groundbreaking event. We look forward to continuing our partnership in accelerating research for bile duct and gall bladder cancers in the coming years.