The 6th Annual 5K Walk/Hike for Meso Raises Over $160,000 for Mesothelioma Research

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, November 1, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Pacific Mesothelioma Center at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute marked its 6th annual 5K Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma on Oct 22nd, 2017, at the Paramount Ranch. With over 350 walkers, the event raised $160,495 to find better treatments for malignant pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos-related form of cancer. Mesothelioma affects almost 3,000 people in the US each year, one-third of whom are veterans.

Presented by Worthington & Caron, P.C, the event brought together people who can personally relate to the cause. Thirty-two teams, consisting of family members and friends of those who have mesothelioma, as well as supporting organizations and individual walkers, gathered at the park at 9 a.m. for check-in and team photos. Each registrant received a complimentary T-shirt, fruit products generously donated by Dole, and sunscreen before leaving on the 5K or 1-mile hike.

After the walk, participants enjoyed a catered lunch by local Agoura Hills favorite Italia Deli. The event also offered David’s Tea, Duverger Macaroons, Monster energy drinks, Mustache Mike’s Italian Ice and a concert by The Six Billion Dollar Band. The live auction featured items such as a photo safari for two in South Africa and a Maui luxury package. The silent auction and opportunity drawing featured items such as gift baskets, dining and adventure certificates and weekend getaways.

Prior to the day of the event, participants were also encouraged to fundraise on their own and compete for an engraved “Top Fundraising Team” award. Besides asking for donations, some teams took a creative route in raising their funds and awareness for the cause, such as a Pasta Party by Team Jarvis, a bake sale at UCLA for Team Cameron’s Cruisers, and a Powerball at Captain’s Treasure Chest by Team Ganoe. The top fundraising team, Double Nickels, led by team captain Cubby Winkel raised over $19,000 for mesothelioma research. Cubby Winkel walks to support his wife, Judy Winkel, a brave mesothelioma warrior.

Many walk to honor those they have lost to this devastating disease. Returning walker Philip Prokop states “I’m glad that my team and I were able to participate again in this year’s walk. It shows support from everyone there, that they appreciate the efforts that The Pacific Mesothelioma Center and Dr. Cameron and his staff are doing. I will continue to support and help any way that I can.” PMC supporter Courtney Erhart added “The Meso walk is a tradition to celebrate and remember my Mom by walking with people that loved her. It’s also a way to support families who are going through or have gone through similar challenges. It’s a terrible disease and every step towards a cure is a step worth taking”.

Donations for the 5K Walk for Mesothelioma are still being accepted at www.phlbi.org/5k-walk-for-mesothelioma.

Latest Breakthroughs In Mesothelioma Research Are Discussed At the 7th Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma at UCLA

The Symposium Draws a Distinguished Panel of Researchers and Clinicians to UCLA to Discuss the Latest Breakthroughs in Prevention, Detection, and Treatment.

LOS ANGELES, CA, UNITED STATES, October 4, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The 7th International Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma was held on Saturday, September 30th, at the UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center. The focal point of the symposium was on clinical therapies and research data to prevent, detect and treat malignant pleural mesothelioma. Healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, and scientists joined students, mesothelioma patients, and their families to attend this informative and educational conference.The Symposium was co-hosted by UCLA and the Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC).

The morning session was opened by symposium chair, Dr. Robert B. Cameron, MD, FACS, who discussed The future of mesothelioma surgery.“Although surgery in mesothelioma has decreased due to a perceived lack of efficacy among oncologists and other physicians, there are therapies, such as preoperative radiation, cryoablation, and Betadine lavage, which are keeping surgical results ahead of other therapies,” said Dr. Cameron, Professor of Clinical Cardiothoracic Surgery and Surgical Oncology. The highlights of his presentation centered on how these therapies supplemented standard of care treatments through preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative therapeutic modalities. Dr. Cameron is a pioneer in the field of mesothelioma, Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, Senior Professor of Surgery at UCLA, and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“This year has been incredibly hopeful as there are new biological advances, such as immunotherapy, anti-angiogenic therapy, and others, that are likely to lead to improved treatments in the future,” said Dr. Cameron. Immunotherapy is advancing rapidly and many other therapies, such as thermal, chemical, gene and cell-based therapies are on the horizon”.

Additional presentation topics included Immune Checkpoint Blockade in MPM; Recent Findings of Mesothelioma and BAP1; Intracavitary Therapeutics for MPM; Disabling Mitochondrial Peroxide Metabolism as an Effective Therapeutic Approach to MPM; Targeting the Epigenome in MPM; Engineering Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Immunotherapy of MPM; Inflammasome Modulation by Chemotherapeutics in MPM; The Benefits of a Mesothelioma Caregiver Support Group and Resources for Research – the Student Internship Program.

The symposium’s other distinguished faculty included: Anna Nowak, PhD of the University of Western Australia; Luana Calabrò, MD, University Hospital of Sienna, Italy; David S. Schrump, MD, National Cancer Institute, Maryland; Jacques P. Fontaine, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa; Brian Cunniff, PhD, University of Vermont; Haining Yang, MD, PhD, University of Hawaii; Arti Shukla, PhD, University of Vermont; Olga Olevsky, MD, UCLA; Lien Hua-Feng NP, UCLA/VA/PHLBI and Clare Cameron, Executive Director of the PHLBI.

The symposium was supported by: Worthington & Caron PC, The International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators, and Waters Kraus & Paul.

Making Strides for Mesothelioma Research: At the 6th Annual 5K Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma

Grab Your Walking Shoes and Join Us for the 6th Annual 5K Walk/Hike for Mesothelioma Research on Sunday, October 22nd at The Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills

 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, U.S., September 13, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC) a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI) will hold its sixth annual 5K Walk/Hike for Meso on October 22, 2017, at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, CA. This year the walk will be hosted by CHiPS star and longtime Pacific Mesothelioma Center supporter Larry Wilcox who will use his humor and wit in his role as MC. With the previous year’s success of over 400 participants and $122,000 raised, the Pacific Mesothelioma Center is setting an ambitious $150,000 goal for the walk this year. The PMC’s mission is to find better treatment options for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a devastating cancer caused by exposure to asbestos with sadly few treatment options. Mesothelioma affects thousands of people each year with a disproportionate number of those being veterans. The annual 5K walk raises awareness for mesothelioma and provides financial support for pioneering mesothelioma research.

The 5K Walk for Mesothelioma, presented by Worthington & Caron P.C, is the only annual 5K walk on the West Coast held to raise funds for mesothelioma research. Over the years the walk has brought together people who can personally relate to the cause and as a result, has fostered a community. Teams, consisting of family members and friends of those who died of mesothelioma, as well as supporting organizations and individual walkers, will gather together on October 22nd to raise awareness and funds.

The cost of registering for the walk is $45 online and $50 the day of the walk. Children 12 and under are admitted for free. Each registrant receives a light breakfast of donated fruit, muffins and coffee, and a PMC walk T-shirt before leaving on the 5K or 1-mile hike, and a medal upon completion. For participants that do not want to walk or hike, bingo will be available. Create a team, join a team, or register as an individual here: http://www.phlbi.org/5k-walk-for-mesothelioma/ .

After the 5K there will be a catered lunch by famed Agoura Hills restaurant Italia’s Deli, delicious Duvurger macaroons, live entertainment by The Six Billion Dollar Band, live auction, and an opportunity drawing. The opportunity drawing and auction offer great prizes including weekend getaways, exciting experiences, great restaurant packages, fun excursions, gift certificates, jewelry, and much more. All of the proceeds go directly to mesothelioma research.

“We are walking in honor of my father, Sal Oliveri and his team “Sal’s Meso Warriors”, said Nick Oliveri of Thousand Oaks. “My father recently underwent surgery by mesothelioma specialist, Dr. Robert B. Cameron to remove his mesothelioma tumors. We are overjoyed that he has been given a shot at extending his life and can think of no better way to show our support of this institute and to help raise funds for their important research program”.

 

The Pacific Meso Center Receives $100,000 Towards the Anonymous $1 Million Challenge Pledge to Help Fight Mesothelioma

LOS ANGELES, CA, U.S., August 30, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC), a division of the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), is pleased to announce a generous $100,000 gift from Roger G. Worthington, of the law office Worthington & Caron P.C. This donation, made in response to the anonymous $1 million challenge grant the PMC recently received, will be used to further the PMC’s groundbreaking research on malignant pleural mesothelioma, asbestos-related cancer affecting the lining of the chest.

The gift will be used in support of NHLBI’s two new scientists – Dr. Masahide Tone and Dr. Yukiko Tone. Both scientists have worked at Cambridge University, Oxford University, University of Pennsylvania and Cedars Sinai Medical Center. They will work on novel immunotherapies for mesothelioma. Immunotherapy is an exciting and promising cancer treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It is the PMC’s firm belief that the future of mesothelioma treatment will involve combination therapy, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. Further, rational combinations of various immunotherapies combined with traditional cancer therapies holds the greatest promise for real progress in the treatment of mesothelioma and other cancers.

Roger Worthington is a long-time advocate for mesothelioma research. In 2005, in honor of his father Punch Worthington, Ph.D., Roger helped establish the David “Punch” Worthington Lab at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. The Punch Worthington Lab. is the home of innovative research on novel strategies for the treatment of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other occupational cancers. Sadly, his father passed away in 2006 from lung-cancer caused by asbestosis.

“We certainly are pleased to provide PMC with additional funds towards the anonymous $1 million matching gift that the institute recently received and I encourage others to donate, no matter how small”, said Roger Worthington, a long-term supporter of the PMC and principal of the Law Office of Worthington and Caron PC. “These funds will enable the PMC to continue their great work on mesenchymal stem cells with their groundbreaking research which holds immense potential to lead to effective treatments not only for mesothelioma but perhaps for many other cancers as well.”

“We are very fortunate to have the continued support of Mr. Worthington,” Dr. Cameron said. “We are tremendously indebted to him and to all those who contribute to PHLBI. This money will allow us to accelerate our search for novel therapies to improve both the longevity and the quality of life of those battling mesothelioma, lung cancer and other diseases of the chest.”

Dr. Cameron is a pioneer in the field of mesothelioma, Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, Professor of Surgery at UCLA and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West LA Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is also one of the PMC’s Scientific Advisors.

Matching gifts can be made either by mail or online, at http://www.phlbi.org/about/get-involved/donate/.

The 7th International Symposium on Mesothelioma: Meet the Speakers Part Two

L-R: Jacques P. Fontaine, MD, Arti Shukla, PhD, Brian Cunniff, PhD, and David S. Schrump, MD, MBA,FACS

The Pacific Mesothelioma Center and UCLA will host the 7th International Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on Saturday, September 30th at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center.  Mesothelioma experts from around the world will convene to discuss the latest research and treatment options for mesothelioma.  Meet some of the international speakers below.  For more information on additional speakers click here

 

The Symposium’s Distinguished Panel Includes:

 

Jacques Fontaine, MD, Dr. Fontaine received his medical degree from McGill University in Montreal and completed his general surgery residency at Boston University. In 2006, he graduated as chief resident in thoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fontaine began his thoracic surgery practice at the University of Montreal but was then recruited to become a part of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Brown Medical School in Providence, RI. He was in charge of developing a thoracic surgery program at one of Brown University’s teaching hospitals. In 2011, Dr. Fontaine joined Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, one of the top three largest cancer centers in the United States based on patient volume. Dr. Fontaine has a keen interest in mesothelioma, lung and esophageal cancers. He is the Section Head of the Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Center. He has developed an expertise in robotic surgery and is the Program Director for Moffitt’s Robotic Thoracic Fellowship Program.

 

Arti Shukla, PhD, Arti Shukla, has a MS and PhD in Biochemistry from Banaras Hindu University in India. Her present research interest lies in studying cell signaling mechanisms of asbestos fibers-induced lung diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Shukla and her team are exploring asbestos-induced signaling mechanisms in human mesothelial cells as well as in different mesothelioma cell lines to be targeted by different anti-cancer drugs in combination with pathway inhibitors. The current focus of their group is to demonstrate the role of inflammation with special emphasis on inflammasomes in malignant mesothelioma pathogenesis. The goal is to reveal the role of inflammasomes in development of asbestos–induced mesothelioma and to manipulate them to develop potential therapeutic strategies for malignant mesothelioma.

 

Brian Cunniff, PhD, Brian Cunniff is a Faculty Scientist in the Department of Pathology at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine. His research focuses on how changes in mitochondrial structure and function influence signaling pathways that contribute to tumor cell survival, proliferation and migration. Additionally, Dr. Cunniff has a deep interest in identifying, characterizing and targeting metabolic pathways that are universal among cancer types for the treatment of intractable tumors such as malignant mesothelioma using in vivo, biochemical and imaging tools.

 

David S. Schrump, MD, MBA, FACS Dr. Schrump is Senior Investigator, and Co-Chief of the Thoracic and GI Oncology Branch at the National Cancer Institute. In addition to maintaining an active thoracic surgery practice, he oversees clinical and translational research pertaining to thoracic and gastrointestinal malignancies, including the development of innovative molecular approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of these neoplasms. He has pioneered the development of epigenomic therapies for thoracic cancers. Using unique in-vitro models and correlative experiments with surgical specimens, he has characterized epigenetic responses to tobacco and other environmental carcinogens, and identified novel therapeutic targets in lung and esophageal cancers and pleural mesotheliomas that are now being evaluated in early phase clinical trials at the NCI. Dr. Schrump graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He completed a residency in General Surgery at the University of Chicago, as well as a 3-year research fellowship in Human Cancer Immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Thereafter, he completed a Thoracic Surgery residency at the University of Michigan, and was a member of the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center prior to his recruitment to the NCI in 1997.

 

Register

If you would like attend the symposium click here to register. Registration fees before September 6th are
  • Physicians :$150
  • Nurses :$100
  • Family & Patients:$75
  • Students:$25
  • Legal Profession:$400
All physicians and nurses attending will receive continuing medical education (CME) course credit. Patients and families are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Breakfast, lunch and coffee included in registration fee.

The Pacific Mesothelioma Center Receives $1 Million Anonymous Challenge Grant to Help Fight Mesothelioma

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA, August 15, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Pacific Mesothelioma Center (PMC), a division of The Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute (PHLBI), is pleased to announce a generous $1 million grant from an anonymous donor. The challenge grant is committed over the next four years with the challenge for the PMC to raise matching funds for additional immunotherapy research.

The grant will be used to support a molecular biologist and an immunologist working on novel immunotherapies for mesothelioma. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that affects the lining of the chest – the pleura. Immunotherapy is an exciting and promising cancer treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It is the PMC’s firm belief that the future of mesothelioma treatment will involve combination therapy, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Further, rational combinations of various immunotherapies combined with traditional cancer therapies, holds the greatest promise for real progress in the treatment of mesothelioma and other cancers. The donation will help propel this initiative forward.

Upon an annual review by the anonymous donor, a grant of up to $250,000 will be awarded each year until 2021. Gifts can be made by mail (10780 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 101, Los Angeles, CA 90025) or online, at http://www.phlbi.org/about/get-involved/donate/.

As a result of this generous grant, the PMC are pleased to announce the appointment of two new Molecular Immunologists who have worked at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania and Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Masahide Tone, Ph.D will bring his immense knowledge, vast skills and leadership capabilities to the PMC lab as Senior Researcher and Director of Research. Yukiko Tone, DSc will be a senior research scientist. Their positions commence on August 21st, 2017.

“This pledge comes at a really exciting time in immunotherapy research,” said Dr. Robert B. Cameron. “For the first time ever, we are seeing real benefit of immunotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Combining different immunotherapies with more traditional cancer treatments, like surgery, in rational ways holds great promise for finally improving the survival of patients with this formerly fatal disease.”

Dr. Cameron is a pioneer in the field of mesothelioma, Director of the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Program at UCLA, Professor of Surgery at UCLA and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the West LA Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is also one of the PMC’s Scientific Advisors.

Laughter: the Best Medicine

Laughter: The Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best MedicineLaughter is the best medicine.

We’ve all heard this line before, multiple times throughout our lives. But does this advice actually hold merit? Recent studies show that laughter definitely brings many healing factors to the body. It reduces pain, increases resilience, boosts immunity, and decreases blood sugar levels which causes the stress response.

The main problems that cancer patients report during the period of their cancer treatment are pain, stress, and depression. The solution to these problems: laughter. Surprisingly, laughter tackles all three of these problems that cancer patients report having the most trouble with. A study published online found that laughing increased pain thresholds due to the increased production of endorphins, which are hormones in the body that relieve pain. Volunteers were inflicted pain by placing a freezing wine sleeve over their forearms or tightening a blood pressure off as they watched different genres of videos, ranging from serious documentaries, comedy videos, and even live performances. Scientists then tracked the correlation between the volunteer’s laughter and the amount of pain they could withstand. The results of this study suggested that people who had been laughing had a higher tolerance for pain.

These results brought upon a new, innovative way to help cancer patients. Laughter therapy, or humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. Laughter therapy sessions are incorporated into a treatment plan to encourage optimistic thinking and joyful feelings that support and even accelerate the healing process. The natural, psychological process of laughter helps relieve the stress, pain, and depression that cancer patients often struggle against.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is an example of a treatment center that uses laughter therapy to cope with cancer. CTCA offers humor therapy sessions to help cancer patients and their families use and enjoy laughing as a tool for healing. Similar to many laughter therapy sessions, laughter is not actually caused through humor or jokes. Rather, it is used as a physical exercise. For example, one activity consists of patients putting their fingertips on their cheekbones or chest and making “ha ha” sounds until they feel the vibrations of their laughter through their bodies. Dr. Pucket, a lead doctor at CTCA, claims “During these exercises, it is hard for people not to join in because laughter is so contagious.”

Both the patient’s reactions and the results of this therapy session were positive. Patients have claimed that they did not even think about cancer throughout the session and that it was great to laugh after being in a state of depression for months. Even an 8-year old who attended a humor therapy session praised the effectiveness of this healing method: “I never thought about laughing every day, but now I realize I can. Like even when I don’t feel happy, I can still laugh and feel better.”

Cancer is definitely no laughing matter. However, if laughter can help the process of treating cancer, why not give a humor therapy session a try?

About the Author:

Author - Joshua Moon

Joshua Moon is an intern at PHLBI who is interested in participating in biomedical research and exploring the medical field. He will be a senior at Oxford Academy in the 2017-2018 school year. Previously, he has participated in the research of the West Nile Virus and has been part of a biomedical class for two years. Joshua is an Eagle Scout and loves to play volleyball.

 

Reference List

Meet the Speaker’s for the 7th Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Part One

Luana Calabrò MD, Anna Nowak MBBS FRACP PhD., Haining Yang MD PhD.

L-R: Luana Calbrò, MD., Anna Nowak, PhD., and Haining Yang, MD, PhD

The Pacific Mesothelioma Center and UCLA will host the 7th International Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma on Saturday, September 30th at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center.  Mesothelioma experts from around the world will convene to discuss the latest research and treatment options for mesothelioma.  Meet some of the international speakers below.

The Symposium’s Distinguished Panel Includes:

Luana Calabrò, MD, received her MD degree from the University of Messina, Italy, and her board certification in Hematology and in medical oncology from the University of Messina, Italy. She performed post-doctoral study at the Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, Aviano, Italy. She worked as researcher at the National Institute of Health, Rome , and later moved to Siena where she works presently as clinical associate at the Medical Oncology and Immunotherapy, Center at the University Hospital of Siena. Dr Calabrò’s research interests include cancer immunobiology and epigenetics, as well as bioimmunotherapy of solid tumors, with particular focus on thoracic malignancies. She has authored more then 50 international scientific publications in books, monographs, and peer-reviewed journals. Lastly, Dr Calabrò is/has been co-Investigator/Principal Investigator of several phase I-III clinical trials with immunotherapeutic agentsi in patients with solid malignancies.

Anna Nowak, MBBS, FRACP, PhD. is a Medical Oncologist and member of the Perth Mesothelioma Centre she has participated actively in mesothelioma research over the past 10 years, and has received international recognition in this area. Dr. Nowak has been active in pre-clinical research in this disease. Her laboratory work in mesothelioma includes a PhD thesis on combination chemo-immunotherapy in a murine model; this work was awarded at local, national, and international level, winning the International Mesothelioma Interest Group New Investigator Award in 2002. She returned to UWA in 2005 to pursue laboratory work and clinical translational work in mesothelioma She has given numerous oral presentations and published abstracts of her work at national and international meetings. More recently, she has continued to investigate the role of PET scanning in prognostication and monitoring of treatment response in mesothelioma, and is the principal investigator of an investigator-initiated phase II clinical trial of sunitinib as second line therapy in malignant mesothelioma.

Haining Yang, MD, PhD., is a Professor in the Cancer Biology Program at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. She has a MD from, Shandong Medical University,
and a PhD, Shandong University. Her research goal is to find novel strategies for mesothelioma early detection, prevention and therapy. During years of study, Dr. Yang has discovered some key mechanisms of asbestos-induced carcinogenesis. Additionally, She found that asbestos induces cell necrosis, causing the release of a critical factor called High Mobility Group Box 1 protein (HMGB1). HMGB1 functions as the “master switch” that when turned on, kick starts a series of inflammatory responses that over time lead to malignant transformation of mesothelial cells and mesothelioma development. .Besides the studies on HMGB1, Dr. Yang in collaboration with Dr. Michele Carbone, discovered that heterozygous germline BAP1 mutations predispose to malignant mesothelioma. These findings opened a new research field studying the mechanisms of gene-environment interaction in causing mesothelioma, and led to the discovery of a new cancer syndrome that was named the “BAP1 cancer syndrome”.  Dr. Yang’s research is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the V-Foundation and the Department of Defense. Dr. Yang received EU Marie Curie Scholarship from the European Commission Marie Curie Actions Program in 2005, and she was one of the recipients of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Innovative Landon Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research in 2008.

Register
If you would like attend the symposium click here to register. Registration fees before September 12th are
Physicians :$150
Nurses :$100
Family & Patients:$75
Students:$25
Legal Profession:$400

All physicians and nurses attending will receive continuing medical education (CME) course credit. Patients and families are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Breakfast, lunch and coffee included in registration fee.

A Conversation With Kenechi Udeze

Kenechi Udeze

Former NFL player who stopped his career early due to leukemia diagnosis chats with PHLBI student intern Joshua Moon about his life, career, and cancer experience.  

1. Of all the places you visited where has been your favorite?
Honestly, California has been a pretty great place and I enjoy it.

2. How did you end up with football?
It started during high school, when I stumbled into a kid, that I didn’t even like, who asked if I wanted to play football. Actually, I thought I wanted to be a basketball player until the point when I stepped onto the football field. I fell in love with the sport – went to camps and lost weight. Several coaches thought I could play at a professional level.

3. What was your first reaction when you learned you had cancer?
My first reaction was of disbelief. I didn’t really believe it and it was just something that I couldn’t come to terms with until I was going through procedures to cure it. But even then, one of the first things I was told was that I had to work on my mental framework everyday rather than being physical fit. So, that’s what I really did. I never really faced a situation more than a common cold because I was in such good physical shape growing into it, so learning that I had cancer was something that caused me much disbelief.

4. Where did you find courage to face a situation that was out of your control?
Honestly, I just did what everybody else would do when put in a situation like that. I’m one of the people that thrive in situations of diversity. I never like things to be easy. I like things to be difficult and that’s the best way to see how you’re progressing as an adult and a human – dealing with things that are out of your comfort zone.

5. So, now you’ve gone from being this pro footballer to a very different routine, I’m sure. In what ways did your schedule suddenly change?
It didn’t really change. I wake up at the same time in the daytime, I go about things in the same way and work out. I’m thankful where my career and workplace is a place where I have so much fun. It’s not even considering my schedules different. It’s more or less the same. I like waking up in the morning early.

6. How about other practical adjustments— like your diet or exercise— how did these change?
That was the most significant change I had in my life. When nerve damage set in initially, it was really difficult for me. For a long period of time, the nerve damage bothered me to where I couldn’t continue exercising. I used be to very active, but chemotherapy caused nerve damage. I still tried to continue healthy regimen, though, and still tried to find time to work out consistently. However, I never got to where I was before and couldn’t be as healthy as I was once.

7. What do you think was the hardest part about the whole experience?
By far, giving up football. If you saw me on a day to day basis, you would see that I am very passionate about the game of football. I just miss football. There is nothing like dedicating yourself to something and being told that you couldn’t do it anymore. I had to say bye to the sport I loved when I was only 24 years old.

8. But you overcame it; what do you believe was the key to your victory?
Having a good mindset and believing that Lord has a plan for me. I never gave up being around the game of football. I always knew that I was going to transition into this world of football in any way, shape, or form. Even though I had to battle, I am still playing football – in a different way. I am back at home in USC.

9. Any piece of advice or words you could share with others that could benefit from your unique perspective?
Never give up and quitting is not an option. Until you take your last breath, just keep on fighting. That’s something I truly believe in because if I gave up a long time ago, I would have never gotten a chance to get into USC. If I gave up on my grades when I got into college, I would have been kicked out. If I had given up on my battle with cancer, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. With a positive attitude, you can do a lot of special things.

10. Did the experience change your priorities, goals, or values?
Yes they changed significantly. I realized that I love the football league, but as much as I loved to be around it, there are so many more important things than football and being part of the game. I found peace when I left the game of football, but it wasn’t until a year or two after when I came into grips with everything.

11. And you found your way back to football, in a different role—what factors pulled you back onto the field?
I really only saw myself being back on the football field, especially as a coach. If you know me personally, you know I’m a hands-on coach. I actually love getting in there, putting my hands on shoulder pads because I’m fairly young, especially in the coaching world. So, being on the field allows the guys to instantly relate to you, not only by me being a defensive linebacker in the past, but also by still showing them how to do things and interacting with them during practice.

12. I’ve read you’re one of the top recruiters in the country—that’s an incredible feat—how do you keep achieving at such a high level?
I’m never satisfied, which can be a bad thing as much as being a good thing. I love it. There is not one part of this job that I don’t like. One of the coolest things I know, as I was a former recruited athlete, is when a coach takes their time and comes to your school in order for you to be part of something bigger then what you’ve accomplished in high school football – that’s really cool to me. Building relationships is important. Recruiting is very easy when you know how to talk to people and get the most out of them. This is because it’s about how to connect to with these young men. You have to learn them and have to be consistent and honest with them. I love the fact that I get to do my job – building relationships with guys and making them Trojans.

13. You still have so much opportunity ahead of you; looking back though, given what you’ve been through, is there anything you would do differently?
You know what, I would honestly say no. With every mistake, with every opportunity and second chance at something, you always have the opportunity to do something better than you did before. The mistakes that I made when I was sixteen, I made the same mistakes at nineteen, but as you start getting older, you stop making the same mistakes because you realize how it affects you. With every opportunity, there is an opportunity to improve and that’s what I really try to emphasize on.

 

About the Author

Joshua Moon is an intern at PHLBI who is interested in participating in biomedical research and exploring the medical field. He will be a senior at Oxford Academy in the 2017-2018 school year. Previously, he has participated in the research of the West Nile Virus and has been part of a biomedical class for two years. Joshua is an Eagle Scout and loves to play volleyball.

The Key to Cancer: Exercise

Scottish playwright James Thomson once professed that “health is the vital principle of bliss, and exercise, of health”.  Thomson’s quote emphasizes the importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy and enjoyable life. While exercise and fitness are essential to a hearty lifestyle, it is even more so to cancer patients. Mounting evidence continues to show that exercise is not only a key component in successful cancer prevention and treatment, but also in preventing cancer recurrence.

For instance, the International Liver Congress conducted a research study wherein mice that exercised for an hour everyday were compared to sedentary mice. Both groups were fed a high fat diet. The results proved that only 70% of the exercising mice developed large tumors whereas 100% of the sedentary mice developed significant tumors, larger than 10 mm. This research played a pivotal role in defining exercise as a crucial part of assisting cancer prevention.

While exercise plays an important role in preventing cancer from arising, it is also a very effective way of coping with cancer and making the treatment a less burdensome process. Engaging in regular exercise increases joint flexibility, muscle strength, and cardiovascular function – all of which translate to a sturdier body. In addition, patients who actively exercise report of experiencing less fatigue, which is the primary complaint during treatment. The reduction of fatigue and the increase of energy levels causes less stress and anxiety, which, in turn, contributes to a greater chance for a successful treatment.

Cancer recurrence is cancer that comes back after a successful treatment. One of the main causes of cancer recurrence is a change in lifestyle that often leads to obesity. It is well-known fact that obesity is closely linked to cancer: 1 in 20 cancers are linked to being overweight or obese. To prevent this from happening, exercise is imperative for weight loss.

So, what kind of exercise is the most helpful for cancer patients? Obviously, climbing Mount Everest or participating in an ultra-marathon is not the thing to do. Instead, an effective exercise consists of three components: aerobic, strength, and stretching. Aerobic exercises cause the heart to beat faster and is an efficient way of burning calories. Good aerobic exercises for cancer patients include bicycling, running, and even walking. Secondly, strength training improves muscle tone and counteracts the muscle decay that comes with the long period of muscle unused during cancer treatment. Lifting light weights or resistance bands are great exercises to participate in. Lastly, stretching is vital in every exercise program. Stretching keeps the muscle and joints limber, resulting in flexible, uninjured body.

As Thomson said, exercise is essential for good health and health is essential for a good, happy life. All three of these things should play an important role in your lifestyle. Keep it safe, keep it fun, and make it work for you!

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About the Author 

Joshua Moon is an intern at PHLBI who is interested in participating in biomedical research and exploring the medical field. He will be a senior at Oxford Academy in the 2017-2018 school year. Previously, he has participated in the research of the West Nile Virus and has been part of a biomedical class for two years. Joshua is an Eagle Scout and loves to play volleyball.