By Mark Ambrogi
The 100 Voices of Hope program has recently vaulted over the $1 million mark in its mission to raise money for the fight against metastatic breast cancer.
The nonprofit was founded by Carmel resident Mary Beth Gadus, a survivor of metastatic breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.
Gadus, 63, started the initiative with the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in 2008 to raise money for innovative and more high-risk research ideas to treat metastatic breast cancer, said Susanna Scott, assistant director of development for the IU Simon Cancer Center, who manages the 100 Voices of Hope program.
“One of the biggest challenges is federal funding and funding from large organizations really requires you have a ground floor of evidence and have already done some experimentation,” Scott said. “But to get that seed funding at the beginning is very difficult and incredibly competitive. So philanthropy and giving from individual donors is the fuel for getting research ideas off the ground so that then the researchers can apply for a (National Institutes of Health) or (National Cancer Institute) grant, which is going to be much larger and give them the ability to move research into clinical trials.”
The 100 Voices of Hope program has funded 11 “hunches,” or innovative ideas that could develop into a new treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
Scott said the annual goal is always to raise $100,000, and that 100 percent of the money raised goes to local research.
“Since it is so aggressive and hard to treat, there are not many treatment options for it right now,” Scott said. “Last year we raised $225,000, and we fully funded two hunches, and both of those have to do with amino therapy. It’s using drugs that train your own body to recognize the cancer, like it would a bacteria or virus, and fight the tumor. It’s a different way to fight the disease and seems to be promising in some of the more aggressive cancers.”
Scott said if an individual gives $1,000 or more, he or she is classified as a voice and gets to vote on which of hunches is funded.
Scott said the researchers submit what they would like to purse and present that view at an annual meeting, where a vote is taken.
For more, visit cancer.iu.edu/100voices/.