Dear Vice President Biden,
Believe me, I have been thinking about you ever since I learned of your son, Beau’s, diagnosis and even more so after his death. I do not know what it is to lose a son but I do know what it is to lose a husband to brain cancer and have been working every day since then for improvements for brain cancer patient-centered outcomes.
Wow! What a day in San Francisco yesterday (1.12.16), I watched the press release launching your legacy, the Cancer MoonShot Initiative and your goal to make an “absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today” and the development of The National Immunotherapy Coalition (NIC). I simply want to say “Thank You” and dearly hope this Blog post makes its way to you. You see, I didn’t want my late husband’s death to be in vain and I fully understand your desire that Beau’s death also not be in vain.
I also believe that “Advocacy” organizations that deliver direct services to patients would also be able accelerate this initiative. The EndBrainCancer Initiative | Chris Elliott Fund has always worked with patients advocating for IMMEDIATE ACCESS to genomic and molecular sequencing and under the Cancer MoonShot 2020 Initiative, patients will undergo next-generation molecular sequencing and gain access to over 60 novel and approved molecules to be tested as immunotherapy combinations. Those of us at the EndBrainCancer Initiative, and the patients and families we serve, could not be more excited about the launch of this Initiative as it closely aligns with our beliefs, day-to-day work with patients, advocacy work, mission and the request our co-founder, the late Christopher Stewart Elliott, made three weeks before he passed away. Before we go any further, I also want to sincerely “Thank You” for agreeing to work together with the following companies to End Cancer.
The initiative is a “GAME CHANGER” in the following ways:
- Nation’s first insurance coverage of next generation whole genome sequencing and proteomic diagnostic platform in cancer patents (Thank You Independence Blue Cross!).
- Next generation sequencing and precision medicine evolving from research to the clinical trial and cancer care setting.
- Coalition (The National Immunotherapy Coalition/NIC) to design, initiate and complete randomized clinical trials at all states of cancer in up to 20 tumor types in as many as 20,000 patients in multiple phase 1-3 trials by the year 2020.
- Beneficiaries and patients will undergo next-generation molecular sequencing and gain access to over 60 novel and approved molecules to be tested as immunotherapy combinations in 20,000 cancer patients with cancer across 20 tumor types.
In 2006, Dr. Ron DePinho, President MD Anderson, wrote to me while he was the Director of Translational Cancer Therapy at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to thank my late husband, Christopher Stewart Elliott and me for, “inspiring a national effort to change the history of this disease. Molecular knowledge is critical for understanding what causes cancer and ultimately, how it can be quelled with effective drug therapies.” Dr. DePinho went on to say: “This worldwide effort drafts the Manhattan Project or the Moon shot and could very well represent one of the defining scientific achievements in this decade and beyond.”
Just before my late husband, Chris, passed away in 2002, he asked me to “do something about this disease so that no other family will have to go through what we have gone through.” I immediately said “yes” and when I said that word, I truly meant it. The Chris Elliott Fund, a 501(c) (3) corporation, was immediately created with the goal of getting patients quickly into the hands of top brain cancer specialists, neuro-surgeons, neuro-oncologists, principal investigators/researchers as well as educating and advocating on their behalf for genomic molecular testing and using this information to identify multiple treatments for them.
Now almost 14 years later, we have evolved into the EndBrainCancer Initiative with the mission of:
Enhancing lives and empowering patients by closing the existing GAP from initial diagnosis to immediate and expanded access to advanced & innovative treatment, clinical trials, and critical care.
We do this through delivering personalized one-on-one support via our “Direct Connect” program which accomplishes the above goals as well as fuels research by pre-identifying these patients for specific clinical trials/innovative treatments, shepherding them through the process and then helping them to get into clinical trials.
In closing, I once again want to say “Thank You” for taking on this initiative. Everything is in place to make significant strides in vanquishing all cancers, not just brain cancer. We just need to work together to accelerate the process including significantly increasing patient enrollment in clinical trials. It can be done: it just needs focus, collaboration and resources.
In deepest gratitude for your commitment and leadership to end cancer as we know it today,
Dellann Elliott Mydland