I am participating in the 2020 Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk: Walk Your Way presented by Hyundai, to help preserve and tell the molecular story of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. On October 3-4, 2020, I will walk >50 miles along the coast from Plymouth Rock (Plymouth, MA) to Dana-Farber (Boston, MA), to demonstrate support for these individuals. Individuals with cancer have an elevated risk for contracting SARS-CoV-2 and suffering severe COVID-19. Amid the pandemic, I walk in solidarity to protect the cancer community. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.
Why are you fundraising for The Jimmy Fund? The Jimmy Fund is the charity organization for supporting research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dana-Farber is a leader in oncological research - where half of all FDA approved drugs for use in cancer were developed by contributions from institute researchers. In 1998 one such drug, imatinib mesylate, was developed by the institute from the ground up. Importantly for my family, and specifically mom Carol (Hanson) Machado, this selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor was later approved for gastrointestinal stromal tumors, extending my late mother's lifespan for 6 months, and have a 50th birthday. I am thrilled to give back to a research institute that helped provide me with such a valuable gift, more life with mom.
How do you preserve the "molecular story" of patients with CLL? Cancer is a disease that evolves over time. Exposure to one therapy can lead to the proliferation of cancerous cells resistant to that therapy. Therapy resistant cells may behave differently from the original cancerous cells treated due to differences in molecular biologies, chemistries, and microenvironments. That's why I've spent my time at the lab bench processing hundreds of blood samples from patients with CLL through the course of their life. By routinely collecting bone marrow and peripheral blood from patients, we are able to extract and cryopreserve (freeze) plasma, serum, mononuclear cells, and peripheral blood mononuclear cells to track changes in the disease over time. Your contribution will go toward preserving the molecular story of patients with CLL so we may further understand their disease course, collect more time points, and investigate new drugs and new targets for patients fitting a similar profile in the future.
Why do some families seem to have higher cancer rates than others? Far too many families have cancer at higher rates than the normal population. Many of these families are forced to live with this observation despite lacking a well-defined explanation for the apparent heritability. That's why I've spent my time extracting DNA from hundreds of lymphoma patient saliva samples. By comparing germline DNA from both affected and unaffected family members to the DNA from lymphoma cells found in blood, we are beginning to identify new ways lymphoma can be passed down through generations. Part of your contribution will go toward helping find an explanation to many families impacted by lymphoma.
Please consider donating to help support our work and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School in the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Center and Translational Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Jennifer R. Brown, MD/PhD.
Cancer sucks. Let's do something about it.
**The views presented on this page reflect those of my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CLL Center, Harvard, Dana-Farber, the Jimmy Fund, or any of their affiliates. My views are always subject to change as new information becomes available to me.