Two more breast cancer research projects will be funded at the IU Simon Cancer Center thanks to nearly 600 100 Voices of Hope advocates who contributed more than $300,000 in 2016. Many donors made gifts in memory of 100 Voices of Hope founder Mary Beth Gadus and inaugural member Carrie Glasscock West, both of whom passed away last year.
“The gifts received in memory of Mary Beth and Carrie were significant and indicative of the legacy of these two extraordinary women,” Mike Gadus, Mary Beth’s husband, said. Both women understood the devastation of metastatic breast cancer and chose hope as they fought the disease.
Mary Beth started 100 Voices of Hope in 2008 by asking friends, family and fellow breast cancer survivors to contribute to breast cancer research to help women with metastatic disease. Carrie and her family quickly became Voices and brought many more into the organization. The goal was to raise $100,000 annually to fund one research idea that otherwise would go unfunded. Nine years later, $1.3 million has been raised, 13 hunches have been funded and more than $4 million in additional funding from national grants has been generated for research on promising projects discovered as a result of 100 Voices of Hope hunches.
The first funded project for 2017 was presented by Tao Lu, Ph.D., and Lang Li, Ph.D., and introduces an innovative technique to discover genes and proteins that block chemotherapy, allowing cancer cells to survive. This hunch has been named in memory of Carrie Glasscock West. A second project, coordinated by the IU Simon Cancer Center breast cancer research program co-directors Harikrishna Nakshatri, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., and Kathy Miller, M.D., is also being funded and will provide the resources to analyze normal breast tissue and answer the critical biological question: Why do some women have breast cancer that is easily cured and others don’t? A study analyzing normal breast tissue from multiple angles could identify the genetic factors that make cancer more or less aggressive and help to better characterize tumors for future treatments.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute to Mary Beth was that her goal of raising 100 $1,000 gifts was realized for the first time in the program’s history. A record 113 individuals contributed $1,000 or more, enabling more than 100 Voices to select the winning hunches.
Mary Beth’s older son was inspired to share how deeply committed his mother was to bringing researchers and advocates together to fight metastatic breast cancer. In a recent blog post marking six months since her passing, Michael recounted his last conversation with his mother:
As I gave her a hug and said goodbye that evening, she whispered, “We can’t just let them die.” I looked at her, puzzled, and asked, “Can’t let who die, Momma?” She tapped two fingers on her throat and said, “The voices.”
On Nov. 29, we gathered for our annual meeting at Meridian Hills Country Club. Watch the video below to learn more about each of the four hunches presented.
At the event, we also shared a video of Mary Beth Gadus and other members of our team telling the story of 100 Voices of Hope. If you have not seen this video, please take a moment to learn more about what inspired Mary Beth to start this impactful program.
This year, we raised $225,421 from 193 whispers, voices and shouts. We far surpassed our $1 million goal and have now raised a cumulative $1,051,780 for metastatic breast cancer research. Our winning hunches are named in memory of Mary Corbett and Anne Abernethy. Both focus on triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive and deadly form of breast cancer. One targets immunotherapy, a promising new avenue for therapy that uses drugs to train the body to attack its own cancer. The second tests a drug combination that has been shown to be highly effective and should be able to move to clinical trial quickly.
On Dec. 2, we gathered for our largest annual meeting to date. You can watch the video from the event to learn more about each of the four hunches presented.
In 2015, we raised $117,850 bringing our total to more than $825,000. The winning hunch was proposed by a team that represents expertise in biomedical engineering, nanotechnology and mechanical engineering at Purdue University. They will be developing a proof-of-concept nanomachine that can detect and destroy cancer cells as they migrate in the bloodstream.
External news coverage
Indianapolis Star (Oct. 2015): PDF
Indianapolis Star (Nov. 2008): PDF