Blog

2023: An Impactful Year In Review

RESEARCH

→ TCF-001 TRACK

Our fully remote, decentralized precision medicine clinical trial has enrolled 157 patients with 40 rare cancers from 41 states, providing key personalized data to inform treatments.

 

→ A recent publication highlighted TRACK as an example of innovation in rare cancer clinical trials.

 

SCIENTIFIC FORUMS

 

→ THINK TANK ON ADVANCING PRECISION MEDICINE IN RARE CANCERS

This innovative meeting provided an opportunity for researchers, clinicians, patients, caregivers, industry, advocacy partners, and policy makers to come together to collaborate and strategize about the most effective ways to treat and advocate for the needs of patients with rare cancers.

→ INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE

The day after the Think Tank, TCF united rare cancer drug developers to discuss common challenges, and ways that TCF will take the lead in addressing those challenges in 2024.

EDUCATION

→  LUNCH AND LEARN WEBINARS

A new series of patient education webinars focused on topics related to clinical trials:

→ TCF also developed new resources to help guide patients through a rare cancer diagnosis, which will be released in 2024.

AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY

For the first time in 2023, Rare Cancer Day was recognized through a bipartisan congressional resolution, and TCF CEO Jim Palma provided comments for the official press release:

“Rare Cancer Day is a time for us to come together to raise awareness, support innovative research and foster collaborations for the rare cancer community. This resolution is encouraging to patients, advocates, scientists, and clinicians as we work to develop lifesaving treatment protocols for rare cancers.”

Throughout 2023, Jim was also asked to contribute to policy initiatives and speaking engagements that raise rare cancer awareness among patients, providers, researchers and regulators nationwide by speaking at various conferences, FDA forums, and educational webinars and podcasts. Here are a few examples:

→ FDA, FNIH, NCI Public Meeting

→ NORD Rare Cancer Day Webinar

→ CancerBuzz Podcast

→ OsteoBites Webinar

 

COMMUNITY

 

Our ninth Boston Marathon Team shattered all previous fundraising records by raising $94,000 while training and raising awareness nationwide.

→ Other community members ran half marathons and triathlons, held fundraisers at NFL games, and raised funds for TCF through social media.

→ We are also grateful to the small businesses who held pop-up shopping events and donated proceeds to support our work.

 

YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL TO OUR SUCCESS

Your generous support of the TCF community over these past 14 years is making a difference and has changed the landscape in rare cancer care.

Please make a donation today to continue this critical work in 2024!

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday new year!

Thank you to our Community Fundraisers!

February is Cholangiocarcinoma Awareness Month. We are proud to highlight the many efforts from TCF community members who are working to bring attention to cholangiocarcinoma and other rare cancers in their own communities.

 

 

Christina Tuskan, Indiana

Jeffrey Alan Tuskan passed away from cholangiocarcinoma in 2012 at just 50 years old. His death devastated his family, but they were determined to help other families and support research. As the five-year anniversary of his passing approached, his family collaborated with St. Michael’s Parish in their hometown of Schererville, Indiana to coordinate a Feast Day 5K fundraiser, resulting in a $5,000 donation to TargetCancer Foundation. For the 10 year anniversary in 2022, the family once again partnered with St. Michael’s for another 5K, and raised over $15,000 for TCF. Christina Tuskan, Michael’s wife, noted that over the years, the family has grown stronger and focus on cherishing their memories with Jeffrey. They are grateful to provide such a significant contribution and hope that many lives will be touched through TCF’s work.

 

 

Nadia D, California

Nadia D’s father has always been her biggest fan. As a competitive collegiate swimmer, her parents never missed a meet. As a runner, her dad send her encouraging text messages for every mile of her races.

In 2021, Nadia’s father was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, and it is a challenge this small, tightknit family is facing head-on, together. This past November, Nadia signed up to run a half marathon to honor her father and raise awareness for cholangiocarcinoma. As a surprise, Nadia created an entire outfit dedicated to her father and set up a fundraiser to raise money for TCF. After successfully finishing the race, Nadia described this very special interaction:

“I have never been more proud to present any accomplishment and honor the way I went home and presented my race dedication with my parents. Every mile, every stride, every breath…it was all for them. All for my dad being full of fight and faith…all for my mom being full of devotion and care. We shared such a special moment talking about my “why” for my race today, the choice in my outfit, raising awareness for such a nasty disease, and the generous donations that were raised for @targetcancer foundation…  THIS. This is what it’s about: Family. Faith. Fun. Fearlessness. FIGHT.”

 

 

Ashley Bombicino, New Hampshire

Ashley Bombicino lost her husband Anthony to cholangiocarcinoma in late 2019. Each year since, she has hosted a Facebook Fundraiser in December to mark the anniversary of his passing and to raise funds for research in his memory. Ashely said, “Without him here with me, the only gift left to give him is to raise money for research for the cure for cholangiocarcinoma to ensure that no one else, no other family has to suffer from this horrible disease.”

This year, TCF was honored to be selected as the fundraiser’s beneficiary. Ashley exceeded her original goal, and in total, Ashley has now raised over $5,700 to support cholangiocarcinoma research since 2020.

 

 

Spencer Lindsay, Nebraska and Washington, DC

Spencer Lindsay was only 20 years old when his best friend, role model, and big brother Matthew passed away from cholangiocarcinoma at the age of 28. Spencer and his family began coordinating a golf tournament in Matt’s memory in their hometown of Kearney, NE in 2015. Over eight years, the Lindsay’s and their community honored Matt’s memory by raising over $75,000 in support of TCF’s cholangiocarcinoma research initiatives.

Spencer said, “My hope is that someday another family dealing with this cancer does not suffer the same outcome we did in losing Matt, and that is why TargetCancer Foundation is so important to me.”

Now on the East coast as a member of the JAG Corps in the United States Navy, Spencer applied and was selected from an incredibly competitive field to run the 2023 Boston Marathon to fundraise as a member of Team TargetCancer Foundation 2023. Spencer is continuing to raise awareness within his new networks, and is also receiving support from his community back in Nebraska. Spencer has raised almost 75% of his goal with two months to go until he lines up for the Marathon on April 17!

 

 

Kim Balkus, Massachusetts

TCF advocate and volunteer Kim Balkus and her family spent more than a year raising funds following the death of their mother, Geri Keegan, who passed away after living with cholangiocarcinoma for more than 6 years. In the summer of 2022, their gift helped to purchase critical lab equipment for the Bardeesy Lab at MGH Cancer Center, where Geri visited during her treatment. Dr. Bardeesy is a leader in the field of cholangiocarcinoma research and has been a partner and TCF grant recipient for over 12 years. Kim shared, “TargetCancer Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital were so important to our mom. By organizing this fundraiser, we were able to honor our mom in the best way possible. She always said even if she didn’t live long enough to benefit from advances in treatments or a cure, she found comfort knowing that others would! This donation in her name keeps her memory alive and her legacy strong!”

 

 

TargetCancer Foundation is incredibly grateful to all of our community members throughout the country for their passion and dedication to supporting the rare cancer community of patients, caregivers, and researchers. Whether it is through sport fundraisers, events, online fundraising, or online awareness campaigns, every event is meaningful and makes an impact on our work. If you are interested in hosting a community fundraiser of your own to support our work in rare cancers, contact us for more information at info@targetcancerfoundation.org.

Beautycounter Community Fundraiser is on!

The Beautycounter Holiday Pop-Up is back! Thanks to TCF community member and Beautycounter consultant Kate Treitman Brown for donating 20% of all sales to TargetCancer Foundation from November 21- November 30. Treat yourself or someone you love to clean, sustainably sourced beauty products while supporting TCF, and receive 20% off any items purchased by November 28th. Forget digging through hundreds of emails looking for ideas- Kate has provided a gift guide to make it as easy as pie.  Happy shopping!

 

 

A meaningful gift

From our very first days, TargetCancer Foundation has been so fortunate to be surrounded by a community of support and friendship. This community continues to grow and find creative ways to ensure that TCF can thrive and expand its reach.
 
This summer, Flora Stetz of Essex, CT, who has been a champion of TCF’s work since its founding, used her immense artistic talent to support TargetCancer Foundation by coordinating an exhibit of 38 of her paintings. The exhibit, entitled “A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That,” was shown at the Essex Meadows Art Gallery from July to September, and proved to be one of the Gallery’s most popular shows. Flora’s exquisite paintings, many depicting scenes from her travel in Italy, raised over $7,000 for TargetCancer Foundation, and sold 22 of the 25 paintings available for purchase.
 
We are enormously grateful to Flora for her generosity, for sharing her talent, and for raising awareness of TCF’s work with her community. Thank you, Flora!

TCF Executive Director Jim Palma to Receive the 2022 Ruesch Center Luminary Award in GI Cancers

 

We are incredibly proud to announce that our Executive Director Jim Palma has been named a Ruesch Center 2022 Luminary Awards in GI Cancer recipient! The Luminary Awards honor individuals who have made transformative strides in the lives of patients with GI Cancers. This well-deserved honor recognizes Jim’s tremendous efforts over the past 13 years leading TCF, as he has tirelessly worked to advance research and advocate for patients with rare cancers. Congratulations, Jim!

A snapshot of a special volunteer

Meet TargetCancer volunteer Gleb Budilovsky! Gleb grew up in Topsfield, MA, and moved to Boston in 2005, where he lives with his wife Lindsey and adorable dog Luna. Gleb is a wedding and commercial photographer, who generously donates his time and skill from behind the camera to TargetCancer Foundation in order to capture beautiful images and special moments from the Gala.  At this year’s event, Gleb is looking forward to enjoying the beautiful State Room, and reconnecting with all of the people he met at TCF’s 2019 Gala. Thank you, Gleb!

Meet Jenna Hart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet TargetCancer Foundation volunteer Jenna Hart. Originally from Connecticut, Jenna now lives on Boston’s North Shore and is the Senior Visual Designer on Mintz Levin’s Creative team. Jenna got involved with TCF in 2019 through her work at Mintz. Jenna is happy to be able to donate her graphic design expertise to TCF, and sees this as a way to give back to an organization that is doing incredible research and work. At this year’s gala, Jenna is looking forward to meeting the TCF staff with whom she has been working virtually since the start of the pandemic, and learning more about TCF’s work in raising awareness for rare cancers. We are very grateful for all of the time and hard work Jenna is contributing to the Gala- thank you, Jenna!

A reflection of purpose after 13 years: Remembering our founder

Written by Kristen Palma, TargetCancer Foundation President

 

Each year, as I sit down to write this note, I wonder what more I can say. It has been 13 years since my husband and our founder, Paul Poth, died after facing cholangiocarcinoma. I am grateful that as time goes by, I think less about the time that Paul was sick, and see how little this particular day matters in comparison to the whole person that he was and the life he lived.

Thanks to Paul’s founding vision, each of us at TargetCancer Foundation is given the opportunity to work with patients, families and caregivers, and to witness the incredible resiliency, creativity, and strength that they find in their most challenging moments. We see patients and caregivers become advocates and medical and scientific experts as they lobby for the best care. They transform themselves into philanthropists, writers, and public speakers, and create powerful support systems, all while finding the unimaginable energy to face a relentless foe.

I watched Paul do all of this when he started TargetCancer Foundation. He was committed to helping other patients with rare cancers be seen, empowered and treated as the whole people that they are, and to be given the best chance to live. All of these years later, with the support of so many of you, we have funded research leading to new treatments, and created the TRACK clinical trial that is fulfilling this mission for rare cancer patients across the country. They are being seen and treated with the dignity that each patient deserves. It is an appropriate legacy for the person that Paul was.

 

Introducing Giselle Mota, our newest volunteer!

We are pleased to introduce you to TargetCancer Foundation‘s newest volunteer, Giselle Mota. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Giselle currently resides in Boston, MA. Giselle became involved with TCF through her work as a Project Analyst at Mintz. This is Giselle’s first year on the gala planning committee, and she is helping to coordinate the silent auction. Drawn to TCF because of its engagement with research and deep ties to the community, Giselle is excited to participate in meaningful conversations with members of the rare cancer community at this year’s Gala. Welcome, Giselle!

Meet TCF Volunteer Cami Harris

Originally from Greensboro, NC, Cami Herring currently lives in Cambridge, MA with her chihuahua, Coco. Cami is a Project Analyst at Mintz working with the Pro Bono and Immigration sections. Cami got involved with TargetCancer Foundation last year after hearing about the exciting work of the organization from previous Project Analysts (PAs). She will be coordinating the silent auction as well as managing the other Mintz PAs who volunteer at the Gala. Cami is so glad to be able to work with the amazing volunteers and staff at TCF and to continue to learn about rare cancers. Thank you Cami for all of your hard work-we are lucky to have you in the TCF community!