Archive for 2014
October 24, 2014
We never want cancer to be suspected in a loved one, but when it is, we want to know it will be found before it has spread. Cancer early detection tools have not caught up to the fast-paced technology of our smart phones. Your involvement is at the heart of Canary Foundation’s research progress in early detection. We are pleased to share the latest news below and ask that you make a gift to Canary Foundation in the upcoming giving season.
Our first piece of news is that the FDA has approved clinical trial use of microbubbles – a technology Canary had been early to invest in – for enhanced ultrasound imaging. This monumental milestone opens the door to move this safe, inexpensive and ubiquitous technology forward to improve diagnosis of prostate, ovarian, breast, pancreatic and other cancers.
Our Prostate Active Surveillance Study (PASS) has enrolled more than 1000 men, producing tens of thousands of critical tissue and fluid samples while offering participants an alternative to immediate surgery after diagnosis. Also, PASS has attracted millions in government dollars, including a recent grant to help PASS work directly with industry partners, exponentially advancing Canary’s strategy to bridge academic research and the marketplace.
Our partnership with Stanford University- the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection – has grown since the move to Stanford’s Technology and Innovation Park. With better space, infrastructure and equipment, the center has attracted top faculty members such as Utkan Demirci, coming from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Demirci has a special background in real-time diagnostics using hand-held and other devices.
Our lung team is participating in M.D. Anderson’s moonshot program (named after the U.S.’s determination to put a man on the moon) with a drive to end to cancer. Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir will lead the Stanford site in a multi-institutional clinical trial to improve lung cancer diagnostics by pairing CT scans with a blood test. Finally, we continue to conduct important biomarker discovery research in our breast and pancreatic cancer programs.
Better tests in the doctor’s office will save lives. With your help, we have been picking up the pace to develop urgently needed tools. Please help us keep this momentum by making the best gift possible.
October 7, 2014
The 4th annual Canary Challenge cycling fundraiser was September 27, 2014 in Palo Alto and experienced major growth since its inception in 2011. The event, produced by the Canary Foundation, benefits the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, and raised $1,094,322, all of which goes to the beneficiary.
“We’re so happy to see the growth of the fundraiser and dedication from our repeat riders and sponsors over the years,” says Don Listwin, founder of Canary Foundation. “We’ve created some cycling routes that highlight the best road riding that the Peninsula has to offer, along with distances for everyone, from the 5k to 100 miles.” The ride also has rest stops with gourmet food and espresso.
September 17, 2014
To give you more insight on the motivation for this team that raised $75,000 for early cancer detection, we thought it would be interesting to share a few stories from this teams riders. Rusty Hofmann, the co-captain of Team X-RAY NINJAS, attributes the survival of his son Grady to cancer research. Grady was diagnosed with aplastic anemia at age 10 and received a bone marrow transplant from his father. The cancer research done in the bone marrow transplant field saved Rusty’s sons life, and now he rides to raise awareness to the cause.
September 16, 2014
If you have been reading the awe-inspiring Canary Foundation blog, you know that we have recently featured the Co-Captain of Team X-RAY NINJAS Julie Kaufman. Julie is a breast cancer survivor that has raised almost $11,000 for early cancer detection in her fundraising for the upcoming Canary Challenge. Her team, X-RAY NINJAS, has been with the Canary Challenge for 3 years and is currently in the 3rd top fundraising spot, making them worthy of our first ever-featured team blog post.
Team X-RAY NINJAS consists of physicians, nurses, technologists, family, and friends of the Stanford Interventional Radiology team. In 2013 the team raised over $60,000, and this year they hope to surpass that with a lofty goal of $75,000 from just 24 team members! We at the Canary Foundation are extremely appreciative of this team because they are dedicated doctors and nurses who treat cancer patients on a daily basis. They truly see what the work we are doing for early cancer detection could do to change the lives of their patients, and that inspires them to fundraise for the upcoming Canary Challenge.
September 8, 2014
This weeks featured rider is Carolyn Helmke, a salesperson for Commuter Benefits Solutions and an avid cyclist in the Bay Area. Carolyn and her team, Team Polly Cleland Helmke, are aiming to raise $15,000 for early cancer detection in the 2014 Canary Challenge. So far they have raised over $14,000!
Carolyn has been disproportionately affected by cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 54, and Carolyn herself is a breast cancer survivor. She believes her survival is due to the fact that the cancer was detected in her body very early. She says, “Early detection of ALL cancers is the key to prevention.” Carolyn will be cycling in the 50k along with her friends, something she greatly enjoys doing in her free time. She has been cycling her entire life!
Carolyn, like many other strong and savvy fundraisers, sends out personal emails to friends and family to raise money for the Challenge. She believes this is the best way to motivate donors to research the cause and support her in her 50-kilometer bike ride. Carolyn and her team always take the time to send out thank you cards to their donors. A small task like this makes a huge difference to donors who spent both time and money supporting their team. Carolyn also motivates her team members to capitalize on their birthdays and ask for donations instead of gifts—we at the Canary Foundation LOVE that idea! Fundraising tactics like these have allowed Carolyn to fundraise almost 40% of her goal 6 (change if posted later) weeks before the Canary Challenge.
When we asked Carolyn if there was anything that she’d like to share with her fellow Canary cyclists, she said that it is integral to know that the most important part of the Challenge is that we find ways to prevent cancer through early detection. She knows we are at a very historic point in our plight for early detection. We have found a further understanding of our own genetics through the innovating research done in the 21st century. The use of new technologies has allowed researchers to compute large amounts of data at a lightning fast speed, and that can be the key to finding early detection markers for cancer.
We at the Canary Foundation want to highlight Carolyn for her dedication to the cause and push to bring about more awareness for the importance of early detection. Good luck in September, Carolyn!
August 25, 2014
By Canary Foundation Intern, Shannon Boselli
We at the Canary Foundation can describe Julie Kaufman in one word: dedication. In Julie’s first year at the Challenge she raised over $11,700 for early cancer detection. Julie is a breast cancer survivor who was luckily diagnosed early in a routine mammogram.
Julie’s husband Wally died in December 2012 of late stage pancreatic cancer. Wally had an upbeat attitude as well as a wonderful team of doctors and that allowed him to live 21 months after his diagnosis. After his death, Julie paired up with Wally’s interventional radiologist Dr. Rusty Hofmann, to co-captain Team X-Ray Ninjas. Julie works to recruit patients to the team while Rusty works to recruit his medical colleagues.
Julie transitioned to being a wardrobe consultant about nine years ago after spending ten-plus years focused on market research for medical companies. She also works at the chair of the board of TheatreWorks, a professional theatre on the Peninsula. In the upcoming Canary Challenge Julie will ride the 50-kilometer bike ride. She is not a fast rider, so having the support of her friends and teammates is very important to her success on the ride. After the ride, Julie enjoys relaxing in her team tent and drinking a cold beer available at the Challenge Beer Garden.
Because Julie is a champion fundraiser, we had to ask her about her techniques. She was one of our top fundraisers last year, and she expects to do the same again this year. Julie believes the most important part of fundraising is to ask as many people as possible to support you. If you ask 100 friends and family members to donate $20, you will find that they take pleasure and excitement out of helping you, and they won’t break their bank. Julie also puts fundraising for the Canary Challenge in the front and center of her thinking from now until the event. She knows that if she’s thinking about it, she will be talking about it wherever she goes.
Julie pushes to fundraise because early cancer detection is close to her heart. She has been personally touched by cancer numerous times, and knows that early detection is the best way to beat cancer. Julie is expecting her first grandchild the week after the 2014 Canary Challenge. She wants her grandchild’s parents healthy and cancer free, and knows that the Canary Foundation can help her achieve that lofty goal.
Julie says, “If you’re inclined to support any of us riding in the Canary Challenge, please consider doubling the amount you had been thinking of giving. It will make the difference!” Thanks for all your great work Julie, see you soon!
You can donate to Julie’s cause here!
August 18, 2014
By: Shannon Boselli, Canary Foundation Intern
When we reached out to Christina Worsing to be featured in a blog post, we did so because of her lofty fundraising goals and her badass Superman costume. We knew little else about her, except for what was featured on her Canary Challenge page. We sent her an email asking if she’d like to be featured for the Canary Foundation blog, and she graciously said yes. After learning more about Christina and her experience with cycling and cancer, we truly felt lucky to have her biking in the 2014 Canary Challenge.
Christina began cycling as a bike messenger in Baltimore in her twenties. During her time as a messenger she began to do long distance rides and even a cross-country trip. When she was diagnosed with Stage 1, Grade 2 Ductal Carcinoma in August of 2013, her whole life changed. Surgery, chemo, and MRIs slowly crept up on her ability to ride. It became difficult to bike the six miles to her work each day. More than a year after cancer struck her body, Christina is dedicating herself to completing the 100 mile ride this September with her team, Team Candyland. With 13 people on the team, most will do the century ride while a few will tackle the 100-kilometer. This close-knit friend group is looking forward to tacking the challenge together, and that’s what will ultimately bring them success at the Canary Challenge.
Christina also attributes some of her recent cycling success to the training rides she does with her team. Being together, hill after hill, mile after mile, created a deep bond and appreciation between each member. It made it worth it for her to wake up at 5:30am and ride 70+ miles. Christina does not make fundraising a main focus for her followers. She reaches out to share her amazing story in a way that highlights the opportunities and successes that have come from her diagnosis. She creates “good vibes” around her donations and friendly conversations, and thus far the vibes have brought her much success.
Check out our interview with Christina. Thank you Christina, for you dedication to both cycling and the Canary Challenge, and good luck in your training for the century ride!
How did you hear about the Canary Foundation/Canary Challenge?
My friend and co-captain, Blake Engel, found The Canary Challenge when some bike friends were discussing summer century rides. I had been looking for a ride to do since coming out of six months of chemo and radiation. I felt like I had aged 30 years. My bones were stiff and brittle. My heart had been compromised from the meds, and I knew it was going to be a slow going in getting close to how I felt a year ago before this all began. Biking is the one exercise I’ve been doing consistently for 20 years and since moving to the Bay Area three years ago, one of the main ways I spend my free time. The idea of a century wasn’t an epic decision. But it also wasn’t an easy one. Six months ago there were days when I needed to stop half way through my six-mile work commute just to catch my breath. But I knew inside of me was someone who once upon a time was a bike messenger. Who once upon a time rode her bike across the United States. And who once upon a time could go for 70-mile rides with friends and still go out for dinner afterwards. I knew I had it in me. I just had no idea how I was going to find my way back.
What are you most looking forward to about the ride? How have you motivated yourself to get through this tough time?
When I think of the ride, I don’t think of it as being in the future state–as something to look forward to. Instead, the ride began for me in the moment I said yes to the idea of it. In
stepping forward it kick-started hundreds of experiences that continue to make up this bigger cancer ride I’ve been on for almost a year now. It’s been an opportunity to say “thank you” almost every day for the effort and willingness friends and family have demonstrated in supporting and participating in this ride. It’s been a chance to get myself into agreement with difficult experiences—to decide how I want to play it—to decide what I want to do with suffering when it arises. I can stay fixed on the discomfort and pressure, or I can accept it and then choose to make it into something else. Ultimately, I can get up the hill (metaphor or not) with whatever attitude I want.
The training rides in particular have been helping me understand what I value. The focus isn’t on accomplishing. It’s not the growing number of miles I can do or the bragging rights of finishing x thousand feet of elevation or riding x number of miles. It’s the empathy and friendliness I feel with my team when we come together. I look forward to the fun of being with one another as we get up those endless hills. I have deep appreciation for the patience of the group in waiting for each other. I love feeling people’s good intentions–knowing that people are willingly making the effort to peel yourself out of bed at 5:30am, so a short practice ride can be done together instead of alone. These are the things I look forward to about the ride.
How long have you been cycling? Do you have any funny cycling stories to share?
I’ve been riding in one way or another since I was ten, but my relationship with biking started really about 20 years ago in my 20s when I became a bike messenger in Baltimore. I did that for a few years, which led to some long distance riding including a cross-country trip. That was more than 15 years ago, but since then I’ve been a commuter and recreational rider on both coasts.
You have almost reached your fundraising goal and its July— wow! Are you pushing for more than $2500?
I haven’t focused on trying to hit a certain number. I’m pushing myself to reach out to and share my story in a way that emphasizes the opportunities that have come out of my experiences in being treated for cancer. I don’t want to sell the “against all odds” story because I don’t feel that way. If they’re willing to support me financially in this experience that’s great. If not, that’s totally great too. There’s been a lot of giving so far and am continuing to feel a flow of good vibes through dollar donations, friendly conversations and open well wishes.
August 11, 2014
By: Shannon Boselli, Canary Foundation Intern
In the conclusion of our two-part series highlighting the Canary Center interns, we take a look at Sonia and Sophie. These two high school students are working on incredible projects in the labs and are considering their plans for the future.
Sonia Sachar- High School student, Mallick Lab
Sonia Sachar is a 16-year-old high school student at Irvington High School, as well as an intern in Dr. Mallick’s lab. They are working on a software program to model the dynamism of signaling networks and protein interaction networks in cancer. Sonia loves working with her outstanding lab coworkers to strive for a common goal of developing techniques for early detection of cancer.
She says, “Being an intern at the Canary Lab, building my software application, interacting with other youths, and learning about the amazing work of pertinent leaders in the field of science and industry, has inspired me to creatively think outside the box, attempt the impossible, and most importantly, follow my passions.” After college Sonia hopes to come up with unique technologies to solve complicated human problems. In her free time Sonia likes to sing with her per cockatiel and create mobile apps to personalize learning.
Another hobby of hers is to advocate for more women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focused careers by teaching computer science and technology to girls in her high school.
Sophie Schick- High school student, Gambhir lab
Sophie Schick is a 17-year-old high school student at the College Preparatory School in Lafayette. Here at the Canary Center Sophie is working in the Gambhir lab, screening drugs in hopes of finding successful treatments to glioblastoma, one of the most lethal forms of brain cancer. Although she isn’t sure of what her plans are after high school, she knows her time spent at the Canary Center has definitely piqued her interest in cancer research, though she notes that dirty mouse cages have yet to excite her! She became interested in early cancer detection through her work volunteering at her local hospital. There she sees the clinical side of treating cancer of the often-devastating prognosis patients often receive from their doctors.
She hopes that her work at the Canary Center and in the future will work to catch cancer early, when it is most treatable. Sophie has learned the value of clear communication through her time spent at the Canary Center—she has both practiced and honed her communication skills; written and orally, and knows this skill will greatly distinguish her in the field of science. She says that learning this skill has made it easy for her to create strong bonds with her fellow interns and the post docs in the lab, and that has allowed her to be more successful in the lab. The hardest part for her is the thought that she must leave soon and go back to school!
August 7, 2014
By: Shannon Boselli, Canary Foundation Intern
In this two part series, we’ll highlight a handful of our summer interns, here at the Canary Center.
These 5 interns, along with 21 others, ranging from high school to college students, are interning this summer at the Canary Center at Stanford. They’re having their first taste of what real lab work is like, and they are able to apply the work they have done in the classroom to the pursuit of early cancer detection. We have highlighted five interns and the specific work they are doing in various Canary Center labs.
Cheylene Tanimoto- Stanford student, Pitteri Lab
Cheylene Tanimoto is a 19-year-old junior at Stanford University majoring in Chemistry as well as an intern in the Pitteri lab at the Canary Center. Cheylene and her mentor Sarah are working to find biomarkers for early cancer detection in the proteome of prostate and breast cancer. After taking a class called “The Cancer Problem” at Stanford in which several misconceptions about cancer were discussed, her interest with cancer research was piqued. The hardest part of her work here at the Canary Center is the transition from textbook to application of the material she has learned in school. Conversely, the easiest part is being enthused and energetic about the work she is doing in the lab. Cheylene loves thinking about the possibility of “developing a simple, affordable, non-invasive test to detect prostate or breast cancer in its early stages.” This acts as a motivation to come to work every day and contribute to the noble cause. Upon graduation from Stanford she hopes to pursue a doctorate in Biochemistry.
Vincent Lin- Harvard student, Gambhir Lab
Vincent Lin is a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University studying Chemical and Physical Biology. At the Canary Center, he is working with Dr. Raj
Kothapalli and Dr. Jesse Jokerst in the lab of Dr. Gambhir developing novel multimodal contrast agents for cancer tumor imaging that can monitor fundamental cellular and molecular events in living subjects. He was attracted to the Canary Foundation by his personal interests in cancer research and specifically early cancer detection. He also loves the opportunity to work with leading researchers in outstanding facilities at the Canary Center at Stanford. He knows that the actual challenge of finding a marker of cancer early is the most difficult part of his internship but he relishes the opportunity to come to the lab everyday and tackle the challenge. A particular potent quote from Vincent says, “I will certainly take skills, connections, and confidence away from this internship, but more than that, I’ve been inspired by the hardworking people I’ve collaborated with, Dr. Gambhir and Mr. Listwin, and by their vision of a world where cancer can be detected and treated in a way that stops and prevents the suffering of too many friends and families.” During his free time Vincent enjoys reading, playing basketball, and hanging out with friends. Upon graduation Vincent hopes to pursue a post doctorate degree and continue to perform research.
Christina Day- Davis student, Demirci lab
Christina Day, and 18-year-old student at UC Davis studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is an intern in the Demirci lab at the Canary Center this summer. She is working with her mentor, Albert in the Bio-Acoustic MEMS in Medicine Labs (BAMM) to apply micro- and nonoscale technologies to problems in medicine, specifically in exosomes in small RNA molecule delivery for gene silencing in cancerous cells. Christina hopes to go to graduate school and later conduct industry research in a field of science she has yet to choose. Christina loves the academic yet applied-research environment setting at the Canary Center as well as the new set of skills she is gaining being in the Demirci lab. Even though she is shy by nature, she has learned to reach out to both interns and postdocs to learn about their research and experiences at the Canary Center, and will use this skill in her future lab work. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, snowboarding, reading, and learning about renewable resources through online courses at UC Davis. She even educates the community about traditional Chinese music through volunteer performances with her Chinese bamboo flute, the dizi. Christina has learned two important things through her time at the Canary Center. The first is that the Canary Center coffee machines are the best around. The second is that the diversity of people working at the Center has added to the wealth and depth of opportunities and success that they have found in the few years that it has been open. She hopes that she can take her new skills, outgoing demeanor, and knowledge of what a successful lab looks like, and bring it to her presence in future labs around the world.
August 4, 2014
By: Shannon Boselli, Canary Foundation Intern
Like most Americans living in the 21st century, Jonathan Chow has been personally affected by cancer. His sister in law Lisa was recently diagnosed with breast cancer despite no family history of breast cancer and being too young for a screening mammogram. The shock of the diagnosis was unnerving for Jon and his close-knit family. Despite the difficult time, his family was able to overcome the diagnosis with both grace and bravery, noted Jon. Instead of letting the cancer take over their lives, Jon and his brother Joseph decided to raise money for early cancer detection through their cycling in the Canary Challenge. This proactive approach to standing up for cancer grabbed the attention of the Canary Foundation and now we’d like to share his story with you.
Jon, an anesthesiologist for Kaiser Santa Clara, is a long time cyclist riding in his first Canary Challenge this September. Jonathan heard about the Canary Challenge through his close ties to Stanford and is now looking forward to doing the 75k route in a few short months! Jon has already raised over $4,000 through his fundraising emails to friends and family. His emails described his personal connection to cancer and the Canary Challenge, and pledged to match dollar for dollar for any donations that were made. He thought he would raise about $1,000 through his fundraising efforts, and was genuinely shocked to see he now is on the hook for over $4,000 from his own pocket!
Jon and Joseph are also looking to bring in a little healthy competition to the ride. Both brothers have been cycling for years despite taking breaks during medical school and busy work schedules. They believe the Challenge will be a perfect place to continue their athletic rival for a great cause.
Jon is an inspiring cyclist for his commitment to the cause. Even though this is a difficult time for him and his family, he has found a way to be positive in battling cancer while simultaneously connecting with his generous friends and family. He believes the big check he has to write, and all of the work he has put into his fundraising efforts, are completely worth it. In his belief, living in the Silicon Valley affords us all opportunities to high-end food, clothing, technology, and a remarkable way of life. These fortunes can become a golden opportunity to give back to the charities that are working so hard to make our nation a healthier, stronger, and better place to live. Jon, thanks for your meaningful words and hard work fundraising—we can’t wait to see which brother wins the race in September!
What is your goal for fundraising this year?
This is a great story: I wanted to get my friends to pony up for donations so I issued a challenge. I would match dollar for dollar any donations that were made. I personally thought that my friends would throw in 20 bucks or so. So I would end up owing a thousand bucks or so. All my friends blew me away with their generosity. I’m on the hook for over 4K now!
How have you reached out to potential donors?
I just sent an email describing why I was riding and for whom. I was riding for my sister in law and brother. My sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. The way this diagnosis has affected her and my brother was very difficult to observe. You have your whole life ripped apart. The amazing thing was watching how strong the two of them were. They were able to deal with this adversity and the accompanying uncertainty in such a graceful and brave way. I wish that I would be able to do so if such a challenge were to occur personally.
I specifically would like to thank these generous individuals:
Dr. Matt McCotter, Jason Zajac, Dr. Jamie Cheung, LK Tan, Kathy Yiu, Richard Hung, Dr. Annie Lee, Dr. Angela Feng, Fanny King, Bob Leung, Heidi Spector, Dr. Fidelia Butt, John Hwang, Andrea Sim, Dr. Giac Vu, Dr. Todd Foster, Jak Lo, and Penelope Chu. I would also like to thank Google. Google is extremely generous in the corporate matching. I am matching my friends’ donations through my wife Eva Hung who works for Google. The generosity of Google is rare.
What has been most successful?
Honesty. Telling my personal story and I think issuing the challenge of matching my friends’ contribution helped.
How did you hear about the Canary Foundation/Canary Challenge? My little brother decided on this charity since our entire family has strong ties to Stanford. My family is from Palo Alto. My sister and I are alumni. My brother-in-law and my wife are also alumni. My brother is a rabid Stanford fan.
What are you most looking forward to about the ride?
Riding with my little brother and laying the hurt on him!
We were both cyclists in high school. I had a bit of a hiatus during medical school, residency, and fellowship. I’ve been riding for the last decade or so. He just recently started back into cycling. We have always been athletic rivals so this will be a fun competition. We plan on doing the 75K. although I have already taken him on metric centuries, so who knows we may end up doing the century!
Obviously we already know about why you’re riding, but is there anything else you’d like to include about this?
I just wanted to say that I was inspired to join due to cancer hitting someone close in my family. The interesting thing is that even though I am writing a bigger check than I ever thought I would for this cause it really has been worth it. It is amazing to see the outpouring of generosity of friends and family. I saw an article about how if one looks at socioeconomic class and charitable giving. As a percentage of income, the poorer you are the more you actually contribute. I donate yearly to charities but realized that this was an opportunity to “put up or shut up.” I truly wish that the more fortunate do take on a greater proportion of the charitable giving in the U.S. Especially in this area, where we are blessed with the tech economy, it seems that this would be a golden opportunity to do so.