2018 GRACE Survivors Reception & Captains Night

Survivorship was celebrated Wednesday evening, August 8th, at the annual Captain's Night and Survivors Reception for Greater Richland Area Cancer Elimination.

Grace Board President Doug Duhr saluted the volunteers who he said are making Grace the valuable asset it is to the community. The 15th annual Walk with Grace Friday night will center around the theme of “Blast from the Past.” Doug Duhr recounted some of the financial success over the years. In the first five years, Grace teams raised $855,000. At the ten year mark, Grace efforts exceeded two million dollars for local cancer patients and research. Last year, Grace fundraising exceeded three million dollars. In the last 15 years, Grace has also enjoyed the support of 58 ambassadors, including Destiny Shannon, Chris Ottesen, Logan Olson and Germaine Hying who are serving this year. The four ambassadors shared highlights of their cancer journey Wednesday evening and will also address the community during the Walk with Grace Friday night during the opening ceremony. One common theme for all the ambassadors was a genuine appreciation for Greater Richland Area Cancer Elimination. Duhr, a 19 year cancer survivor himself, told the community members gathered for the night that he thought about survivors when he noticed a mole run in his yard. He said, “You can see where the mole has been, you just don't know where it is going.” Grace is hoping that as many former ambassadors as possible will be able to attend Friday night along with all cancer survivors. Survivors of all forms of cancer, regardless of how long or short the time of survivorship, are encouraged to not only attend the walk but to register as a survivor as well. Registration will begin at 5:00 Friday evening. Survivors will all participate in the first lap of the walk.

The evening afforded a chance for the medical community to provide updates on how Grace funding has helped in the fight against cancer. Dr Paraic Kenny, Director of the Oncology Research Lab at Gundersen Health System, shared his gratitude with Grace volunteers. Dr Kenny detailed the concept of personalized medicine and why it is making a difference in people’s lives. Some of the programs afford hope and service to some of the most seriously ill patients. In addition, Dr Kenny shared encouraging information about cancer immunotherapies, where the immune system itself selectively attack cancer cells and spare patients the toxicity of traditional treatments. Dr Kenny said headlines that tout the end of an era for chemotherapy, are valid.

Dr. Dustin Deming, a Medical Oncologist with the Carbone Cancer Center, whose work has in part been funded by Grace, talked about his work. Ironically, Dr Deming, a colorectal cancer specialist, developed colorectal cancer himself which he said provides him a chance to understand cancer from a patient point of view. Steps forward at Carbone include the ability to actually grow cancer in the lab and then be able to experiment with means to eliminate the cancer. The cultures have been very representative of what is going to happen in the patient. Dr Deming said that Grace funding has been important to the program and helped advance research that was highly praised and responsible for securing a four million dollar seven year grant for continued research.

Grace funds also support the Richland Hospital. Marsha Jones, a longtime employee of the Richland Hospital who has worked with mammography, talked about the hospital’s desire to implement a 3D system, a significant step forward from the first digital unit installed in 2009. The new system takes pictures of the breast from many angles giving a very clear picture and increased detection ability. The goal of the 3D mammography is that there will be fewer recalls given the clearer results which will result in cost savings. Jones said that the new 3D imaging equipment will be especially beneficial for women with dense breast tissue. The hope of the hospital is that the new equipment can be placed in service by the first of the year.

The Captain's Night and Survivor's reception paves the way for the 15th annual Walk with Grace Friday night in Krouskop Park.