In just a couple of weeks, I will attempt to row a boat with a crew of five 200 miles across the Mediterranean Sea with 4 others. I’m not doing it to challenge myself, I’m doing it for all of us: this row will raise money toward the goal of ending 5 percent of all cancers.
Tristan, Justine, and Camille lost their mother to HPV-related anal cancer. While caring for their mother, they found that HPV-related cancers were largely ignored and that treatment had barely changed since the 1970s. In fact, human papillomavirus (HPV), a common skin virus, causes 5 percent of all cancers worldwide. It can cause cancer in both men and women — cancers like anal, penile, and cervical cancer--it is also one of the leading causes of head and neck cancers. Sadly, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, particularly in men. HPV also causes diseases affecting the voice box that require chronic medications and surgeries. While 80% of people are exposed to HPV at some point in their life, and three vaccines exist, very few people are vaccinated, and in almost all countries, boys are not provided universal access to the vaccine.
Moved to action by their tragedy and these realizations, the trio founded the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. Thanks to the foundation’s work, policies have changed in this country, and hundreds of thousands of children will grow up not having to worry about these particular cancers. Just last year, in recognition for their work, former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Initiative awarded them the inaugural LEAP award for their exemplary leadership and transformative impact on the lives of cancer patients. In 2018, with its staff of only two employees and help from its fundraising supporters, the foundations.
- Attained the first new treatment option for metastatic anal cancer patients in 45 years. This was based on the very first immunotherapy trial exclusively for anal cancer patients, funded by the foundation
- Achieved a change in UK policy to expand vaccine coverage of the HPV vaccine to young males, resulting in 400,000 more children per year protected from HPV. This has expanded to over 30 countries, including the US, from 0 in 2013.
- Delivered one-on-one assistance to 350 cancer survivors and caregivers through patient support and peer-to-peer matching programs.
- International Anal Neoplasia Society (IANS), a medical network seeded by the Foundation, held its fourth scientific conference as it continues improving early detection and care.
At work, I see the effects of HPV-related cancer and vocal cord lesions. Multiple surgeries, and life-changing chronic problems can--and WILL--be eliminated by our efforts if you help me. Not only that, but If we get this right, those resources no longer needed to treat HPV-related illnesses can be used to treat other issues that will undoubtedly reach our loved ones, even if HPV does not directly.
I became a physician to prevent disease. I never thought rowing in college would give me a chance to have this positive effect through this highly effective organization. Will you help me achieve this? As I continue to train and pour my effort into this experience, my goal is to bring $20,000 to the campaign through my row. Donations have begun, but I’m reaching out through this letter because I am not yet close to reaching this number. Please join me in supporting this: any amount is helpful to our mission!