Leading up to the 7th Annual TargetCancer Foundation Gala, we will be sharing stories and perspectives on the gala from the many people who make up the TargetCancer Foundation community.
The post below is from DJ Webster, longtime volunteer, intern, and friend of TargetCancer Foundation. Readers may recall DJ’s powerful piece written for the TargetCancer Foundation Blog in 2014. Pictured above are DJ and and his fiancé Lauren at the 2014 TargetCancer Foundation Gala.
Five — it’s a number that can feel incredibly small, or a timeframe that can feel like a lifetime.
Five years ago, my father Dave Webster lost his five-month battle with cholangiocarcinoma. He faced a dire diagnosis, few treatment options and world of uncertainty around his disease. Unfortunately, this story is far too common in the rare cancer community. Physicians often have very little experience treating these rare diseases, and when they do, they have to work with little – if any – published research to assist their treatment. Given that outlook, my father’s diagnosis that originally gave him 12 months to live was quickly accelerated to five. Just five short months.
However, in the five short years since then, TargetCancer Foundation has made tremendous progress and is making a real impact in rare cancers. From the money raised through various fundraisers and the annual gala, TargetCancer Foundation has provided close to $1 million in research grants, with that funding directly leading to ten major publications, and two clinical trials. It has established a new Patient Assistance Fund and participated in the Boston Marathon. TargetCancer Foundation is taking rare cancers out of the shadows and thrusting it to the forefront of science, addressing all of the issues my father faced.
One of the hardest things about losing a parent at a young age is thinking about all of the major life events he will miss. In the five years since my dad passed, I’ve graduated from Boston College, got a job in the biopharmaceutical industry, and got engaged to be married. He never met Lauren, my wife to be. But somehow, through my involvement with TargetCancer and the gala, it feels like he has. She sees the way my family comes together to support TargetCanncer. She’s sees the significant impact TCF is making on rare cancer research. And most importantly, every year at the gala, she feels the love and support from those who were taken to soon. Particularly that coming from her future father-in-law.
It doesn’t take a million dollars to make a difference in rare cancers, and that’s what is so great about the gala. The funds raised go directly to fighting rare cancers, including cholangiocarcinoma, which cut my dad’s life short. Every dollar counts. Every attendee provides hope. Every bit of support makes a difference. I hope to see you at Fenway Park on November 17th to join us in the fight against rare cancer.