People dealing with cancer go through an intense journey. For many, tenacity and bravery are required toward striving to find the best solutions possible.
Last Sunday June 14, 2015, I received a Tenacious Bravery Award from the UCLA Brain Tumor Program at Golden Portal Awards in Beverly Hills. This 4th annual fundraising event supports immunotherapy research and treatments. Linda Liau, MD, PhD, a top-notch neurosurgeon and scientist who saved my life and many others, presented me with the award. Dr. Prins and others from the UCLA immunotherapy lab were in attendance, along with over 200 people.
I felt so grateful and humbled to receive the award. The reality is that I would not have been treated in an immunotherapy dendritic cell vaccines clinic trial last year without previous financial donations through the annual Golden Portal Awards started by Ted Gagliano and Loic Bailly in 2011. As a result, many other brain tumor patients have been able to receive immunotherapy vaccines through UCLA clinical trials. UCLA immunotherapy research had started years ago and with positive benefits. At the event, I met Jennifer Sugioka who was the first glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patient for UCLA immunotherapy vaccines clinical trial in 2000. Now, she is a 15-year GBM survivor!
Here is a portion of my speech in accepting the Tenacious Bravery Award.
“As I entered the brain tumor world in 1998, I quickly saw the urgency to find solutions for an extremely challenging disease. When I needed my third awake brain surgery the fall of 2013, I learned about current opportunities with UCLA immunotherapy vaccines to boost the immune system that improves quality of life and survival. In my experience and for other patients, brain tumor cells from brain surgery are combined with white blood cell counts after radiation and chemotherapy. The lab then works with their brilliance to put together immunotherapy vaccines ultimately delivered to patients 3 times every 2 weeks. The powerful immunotherapy vaccines activate specific immune cells to find, get into, and work against brain tumor cells. Fortunately, immunotherapy vaccines are in a Phase III trial nationally and internationally getting closer to FDA approval. Further research and treatments are also necessary.“