More than 150 guests and supporters of Campaign 2 Save Lives (C2SL) gathered at Katana in Chicago on May 16 in an effort to raise funds for the Leukemia Translational Research Program at Northwestern Medicine. A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the C2SL 2018 Icon of Chicago Award to Jason Chan, a successful 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, recipient of the 2015 Chicago Dining Award, teacher, mentor, and stage IV cancer survivor, who received treatment at Northwestern through the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
In his acceptance, Mr. Chan shared: “Cancer is the best worst thing that ever happened to me. When you get a second chance, there’s an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’m thankful to be here and be able to dream, laugh, learn, and love.”
The event was chaired by Barbara and Bruce Jacobson, who co-founded Campaign 2 Save Lives, an Illinois 501(c)(3), in 2015 to further the progress of translational research in leukemia. The Leukemia Translational Research Program at Northwestern is led by Jessica K. Altman, MD, director of the Acute Myeloid Leukemia Program, and Olga Frankfurt, MD, associate director of the Cord Blood Transplant Program. Both Drs. Altman and Frankfurt are associate professors of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“When Barbara and I conceived this campaign, she was in the midst of 155 days of treatment at the Lurie Cancer Center,” said Mr. Jacobson. “We remained optimistic that we would come out at the other end together and try our best to do something good.”
Mr. Jacobson continued: “I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but because of my involvement with C2SL, I hope to be able to tell my grandchildren someday that I helped to cure cancer.”
Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, director of the Lurie Cancer Center, shared: “I am so grateful to Barbara and Bruce for their commitment to this important work. They are doing something big-they are trying to change the way we treat this disease.” Dr. Platanias also is Jesse, Sara, Andrew, Abigail, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Lurie Professor of Oncology at Feinberg.
“Just to put this in perspective, it’s been decades since a new drug was approved for the treatment of Leukemia. Now, over the last year, four new drugs have been approved for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, and we at Northwestern have been involved with some of the pivotal trials that have led to their approval,” said Dr. Altman. “The type of cutting-edge work being done to move these treatments forward is generally only funded by philanthropy—it makes a huge difference.”
Leukemias are among the most aggressive and lethal forms of blood cancer. Despite dramatic advances in understanding cancer biology, there is still much work left to effectively treat the more than 100,000 people with a new diagnosis each year. The Leukemia Translational Research Program, supported by Campaign to Save Lives, offers hope to newly diagnosed leukemia patients, and to those who have been battling acute and chronic leukemias, myelodysplastic syndrome, and other chronic myeloid neoplasms.