Nov. 6 stepNout 5K aims for another $1 million for TGen cancer research

11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash seeks end to pancreatic cancer, soon the nation’s 3rd leading cause of cancer death

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aug. 25, 2016 — This year, pancreatic cancer is projected to eclipse breast cancer as the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is determined to reverse this trend in pancreatic cancer by enlisting the help of more than 1,000 participants at the 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research, Nov. 6 in Scottsdale.

“We are incredibly grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who have truly accelerated the development of new treatments for pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. “These generous runners and community leaders have brought hope and answers to pancreatic cancer patients around the world.”

Be sure to put on your running shoes for stepNout, a family-friendly morning of races, music, games, and activities — including a photo booth and face painting — all celebrating TGen’s efforts to stomp out pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor and Physician-In-Chief, said more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer are needed. Pancreatic cancer this year will take the lives of nearly 42,000 Americans, a more than 10 percent increase in the past 5 years.

“The death rate for other leading cancers have been flat in recent years because of more effective treatments,” said Dr. Von Hoff. “We are making progress in treating patients with improvement in average survival and for the first time having some very long term survivors. We need continued, dedicated funding to improve on these promising results to our studies and benefit pancreatic patients who need our help now.”

Median survival for patients with advanced disease was less than 6 months, and the 5-year survival rate was less than 10 percent. But thanks to fundraising efforts like stepNout, these statistics are improving.

Under Dr. Von Hoff’s leadership, and in collaboration with HonorHealth, TGen pioneered a major international clinical trial that led the FDA in 2013 approved the use of Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine, which now is the nation’s standard of care for this disease. Two ongoing TGen-led studies are showing even greater promise, with tumor reductions of at least 30 percent in 3 in 4 patients, and the elimination of tumors in 1 in 5 patients.

Competitive and fun races at stepNout are geared for all ages and abilities, including the event’s signature 5K run. Online registration ends Nov. 1, though participants can register at the event. This is the third year stepNout will be at the Scottsdale Sports Complex, northeast of Bell and Hayden roads.

The annual event has raised more than $1 million since it started in 2006. Nearly $135,000 was raised last year, and organizers are aiming for $150,000 this year on their way towards an overall goal of $2 million.

And you don’t have to be at stepNout to help. You can donate at www.tgenfoundation.org/step.

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If you go to stepNout:

What: TGen’s 11th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash for pancreatic cancer research.
Where: Scottsdale Sports Complex, 8081 E. Princess Drive, northeast of Hayden and Bell roads, between Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
When: 7:30-11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.  Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.; a competitive 5K run begins at 9 a.m.; a fun 1-mile run/walk starts at 9:15 a.m.; a free 50-yard kids’ dash is planned for 10:30 a.m.
Cost: Registration fees range from $10 to $30, depending on age. Costs increase by $5 after Oct. 21. Children ages 5 and under are free.
Parking: Free.
More information and registration: www.tgenfoundation.org/step and click on events. Contact Andrea Daly at (602) 343-8572 or by email at adaly@tgen.org.

‘Cycle for the Cure’ Raises a Record $248,725 for Cancer Research at TGen

Philanthropists Sherry and Richard Holson are instrumental in securing $100,000 in donations from Guarantee Trust Life

PHOENIX, Ariz. —  This year’s Cycle for the Cure already was on track to be one of the most successful in its six years of raising cancer research funds for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

But thanks to additional donations generated by Guarantee Trust Life of Glenview, Ill., the 6th annual Cycle for the Cure garnered a record $248,725 for TGen.

The May 1 event, which featured hundreds of dedicated donors spinning on stationary cycles for up to 2 hours at several health clubs in Phoenix and Scottsdale, produced $173,725.

But Vicki Vaughn, Co-Chair of Cycle for the Cure, wasn’t finished.

After introducing her friends — Richard S. Holson III, Chairman, CEO and President of Guarantee Trust Life, and his wife, Sherry — to TGen, the Holson’s company invited TGen cancer researcher Dr. Will Hendricks and TGen Foundation Vice President Erin Massey to present at Guarantee Trust Life’s recent company conference in Arizona. The company was impressed and donated $25,000, part of the initial tally for Cycle for the Cure.

Then, after company officials toured TGen laboratories, they challenged their partners and representatives to donate to Cycle for the Cure. They raised a combined $37,500, which Guarantee Trust Life matched, dollar-for-dollar, adding another $75,000 to the $25,000 the company already donated, bringing the total generated by Guarantee Trust Life to $100,000.

“TGen should be very grateful to my wife, Sherry, and Vicki Vaughn as they were responsible for introducing my company to this amazing organization. We were impressed with, and inspired by, the remarkable people at TGen and the world-class, life-changing research being conducted,” said Richard Holson. “And the response by our agents with their contributions was great.”

Using genomic sequencing, TGen helps doctors match the appropriate therapy to each patient’s DNA profile, producing the greatest patient benefit. This year, Cycle for the Cure raised research funds for work on a revolutionary diagnostic method called “liquid biopsies” — biomarkers in circulating blood — as a means of providing patients and their doctors with early detection of disease.

“We believe everyone should know first-hand about the groundbreaking research going on at TGen, and we encourage everyone to join us in supporting the vital work TGen does,” said Vicki Vaughn, who co-chaired Cycle for the Cure with Robyn DeBell.

Village Health Clubs and Studio 360 provided the venues for this year’s Cycle for the Cure. In addition, yoga and kinesis classes were included in the fundraising events by Village Health Clubs at its DC Ranch and Camelback locations.

“We are incredibly proud to have merited the dedicated support of volunteer co-chairs Vicki Vaughn and Robyn DeBell,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. “Their extraordinary leadership, and the generosity of business leaders like Rick Holman and the Guarantee Trust Life company, provides an incredible boost to TGen’s cancer research initiatives.”

Donations continue to be accepted at www.tgenfoundation.org/cycle. And save the date for next year’s 7th annual Cycle for the Cure: April 30, 2017.

MRSA Detection Technology Developed by TGen-NAU is Granted First Patent

Test for ‘superbug’ bacterial infections created by DxNA under license from TGen-NAU

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Antibiotic-resistant infections should be easier to detect, and hospitals could become safer, thanks to a technology developed by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU), and protected under a patent issued by Australia.

Soon, similar patent approvals are expected by the U.S., Canada, European Union, Japan, Brazil and other nations for this “superbug” test developed by TGen and NAU, and licensed to DxNA LLC, a company based in St. George, Utah.

“This rapid, 1-hour test will precisely identify a family of antibiotic-resistant Staphinfections we broadly refer to as MRSA,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, or TGen North, based in Flagstaff.

“We hope this technology will be adopted worldwide by hospitals and clinics, and will help identify and isolate these dangerous and difficult-to-eliminate infections that have come to plague our medical institutions,” said Dr. Keim, who also is the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at NAU, and Director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics (MGGen). “The result should be more rapid diagnosis, improved treatment of patients, and reduced medical costs.”

MRSA — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — is an antibiotic-resistant form of the Staph bacteria that annually kills more Americans than HIV.

While MRSA technically refers to one particular strain of Staph, the genomics-based test developed by TGen, NAU and DxNA can precisely detect multiple types of drug-resistant Staph bacterial infections, including drug resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococcus (CSN), a much more common infection than MRSA.

Staph infections are the most common hospital-acquired or associated infections. While most of the focus over the past few years has been on MRSA, in terms of incidence and total cost, strains of Staph other than MRSA are a much more common problem.

Due to the increasing use of implantable biomaterials and medical devices, infections are increasingly caused by CNS. This is a type of Staph that is often resistant to multiple antibiotics and has a particular affinity for these devices.

“Rapid identification and differentiation of these resistant bacteria is key to optimizing treatment decisions that significantly impact patient outcomes and cost of care,” said David Taus, CEO of DxNA LLC. “Given that resistant CNS is a frequent pathogen in surgical site infections, orthopedic and cardiac device infections, and blood stream infections — among others — it is critical that we be able to rapidly identify and determine antibiotic resistance to provide for appropriate pre-surgical antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent infections and early and effective treatment when these infections do occur.”

Current molecular tests for MRSA all ignore CNS, rendering their results significantly less useful in treating patients given that drug resistant CNS infections are many times more common than MRSA.

DxNA’s Staphylococcus Test identifies and differentiates resistant and non-resistant strains of Staph and CNS. The test uses three separate proprietary biomarker targets and a proprietary methodology to determine which types of Staph are present, and which carry the gene that causes antibiotic-resistance in these bacteria.

“The test also is effective in identifying infected specimens where there are multiple types of Staph. The test will rapidly provide broader clinically-actionable results, improving antibiotic prophylaxis, early targeted intervention resulting in more effective treatment at lower costs,” Taus said.

Macy’s ‘Shop For A Cause’ Aug. 26-28 Supports Cancer Research at TGen

All proceeds from ‘Shop For A Cause’ shopping passes benefit TGen pancreatic cancer patients; shoppers receive substantial discounts

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Here is one more reason to do your back-to-school shopping at Macy’s:  “Shop For A Cause” shopping passes will provide needed research dollars for the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), benefitting pancreatic cancer patients.

This 11th annual “Shop For A Cause” at Macy’s is no longer a one-day event. This year, “Shop For A Cause” passes will be honored at Macy’s throughout the weekend of Aug. 26-28.

Now through Aug. 25, “Shop For A Cause” passes may be purchased for only $5 by visiting helptgen.org/macys or by calling 602-343-8411. Shopping passes will provide up to 25 percent off most merchandise, and provide an opportunity to win a $500 Macy’s gift card.

“More than ever, Macy’s is finding ways to help charity and non-profit organizations, such as TGen, to help those in need,” said Dr. Haiyong Han, Associate Professor of TGen’s Clinical Translational Research Division. “ ‘Shop For A Cause’ will benefit pancreatic cancer patients who desperately need our help today.”

This year, pancreatic cancer will surpass breast cancer as America’s third-leading cause of cancer-related death, with more than 53,000 newly diagnosed patients, and nearly 42,000 deaths. More than 75 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of diagnosis, and fewer than 10 percent survive for more than 5 years.

The pancreas is a banana-shaped organ behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes, as well as hormones such as insulin to help regulate blood sugar. Because there is no screening test, and usually no symptoms in its early stages, pancreatic cancer usually is not diagnosed until its advanced stages, when surgery often is no longer an option and treatment is more difficult.

TGen’s focus is on early detection, and groundbreaking clinical trials, which recently have shown tumor reductions of 30 percent or more in nearly 8 out of 10 advanced pancreatic cancer patients. TGen’s progress could not come at a more critical time. During the past 5 years, as the U.S. population continues to grow, the number of deaths attributed to other leading cause of cancer death — lung, colon and breast cancers — have remained steady, while the number of deaths due to pancreatic cancer have increased by nearly 11 percent.

All dollars — 100 percent — raised in the Phoenix area by “Shop For A Cause” will go toward TGen’s annual stepNout run/walk/dash program, which funds pancreatic cancer research. This year’s stepNout event is scheduled for Nov. 6 at the Scottsdale Sports Complex.

Macy’s “Shop For A Cause” is a unique shopping event dedicated to supporting local nonprofit organizations’ fundraising efforts. Since 2006, the program has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for charities throughout the nation, and more than 5,000 charities signed up to participate last year.

“At Macy’s, we believe in supporting the communities where our customers and associates live and work. That is why we are so proud of ‘Shop For A Cause,’ ” said Holly Thomas, Macy’s group vice president of cause marketing. “With this year’s extension to a weekend-long event, we’re offering even more opportunity to support local and national causes, and thanking our customers with special savings at Macy’s.”

To find a Macy’s near you, go to mcys.co/1D3ZrXl. For more information about Macy’s “Shop For A Cause,” visit macys.com/shopforacause.

Saks Fifth Avenue and Saturday Night Live Partner to Celebrate SNL’s 40th season, and the 16th Year of Key to the Cure

Cast members of Saturday Night Live, entering its 40th season this fall, are promoting the 16th year of Saks Fifth Avenue’s “Key to the Cure,” locally benefiting women’s cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

During Key to the Cure‘s Oct. 16-19 charity-shopping weekend, Saks Fifth Avenue at Biltmore Fashion Park, 2446 E. Camelback Road, will donate 2 percent of sales to support breast and ovarian cancer research at TGen.

The highpoint of the Saks Phoenix fundraising shopping spree is the signature Key to the Cure fashion show, starting at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 17, featuring gourmet food, drinks, a raffle for designer items, and an exclusive peak at the latest fashions. For more information, please visit: www.tgenfoundation.org/events, or contact Andrea Kobielski at akobielski@tgen.org or 602-343-8572.

“We are honored to be Saks’ long-term partner for Key to the Cure, and excited about the visibility and awareness that Saturday Night Live’s past and current cast members bring to women’s cancers,” said Erin Massey, Vice President of Development for Cancer Programs for the TGen Foundation. “Locally, Key to the Cure highlights TGen’s patient-focused breast and ovarian cancer research initiatives and provides our scientists funding to pursue new and innovative research.”

Current Saturday Night Live cast members (Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong and Colin Jost) and past cast members (Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer) are this year’s Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) ambassadors for Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2014 Key to the Cure campaign.

The SNL cast members will appear in national public service announcements wearing a limited-edition unisex tee created by celebrated New York designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of rag & bone. The Key to the Cure PSA will appear in major fashion and lifestyle magazines in September and October.

The shirt will retail for $35 at Saks Fifth Avenue stores and online at saks.com and saksoff5th.com. All — 100 percent — of the proceeds from each shirt sold will be donated to TGen, benefiting charitable programs dedicated to finding new detection methods, better treatments and eventual cures for women’s cancers. The tee debuts Oct. 1 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

In the past 15 years since the inception of the Saks Fifth Avenue charity-shopping weekend, the retailer has raised more than $35 million for cancer research.

In addition to the partnership for the annual Key to the Cure campaign, Saks Fifth Avenue will sell exclusive merchandise inspired by notable Saturday Night Live characters from seven New York designers. These items, curated by Saturday Night Live’s Emmy-nominated costume designer Tom Broecker, will be available in Saks Fifth Avenue’s New York flagship store and on saks.com during the Key to the Cure shopping weekend.

The merchandise includes: Mango’s shorts as interpreted by Alexander Wang, The Nerds outfit as interpreted by Alice + Olivia, a dress fit for The Californians as interpreted by Diane von Furstenberg, Spartans Cheerleading uniforms as interpreted by Elizabeth and James, hats fit for The Coneheads as interpreted by Eugenia Kim, Mary Katherine Gallagher’s school uniform as interpreted by rag & bone, and Gilly’s dress as interpreted by Suno.

About Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s pre-eminent specialty retailers, is renowned for its superlative American and international designer collections, its expertly edited assortment of handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and gifts, and the first-rate fashion expertise and exemplary client service of its Associates. As part of the Hudson’s Bay Company brand portfolio, Saks operates 39 full-line stores in 22 states, five international licensed stores, 73 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and saks.com, the company’s online store. Saks Fifth Avenue is proud to be named a J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 50 U.S. companies so named.

About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K Run & Walk

LAUNCHES INAUGURAL 5K RUN & WALK EVENT TO RECOGNIZE ALL CLINICAL TRIAL VOLUNTEERS

Partnership with DIA to Honor People Who Give the Gift of Participation in Clinical Research

BOSTON, MA – March 1, 2014 — The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), an independent non-profit, is excited to announce the launch of a new event — Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K Run & Walk in San Diego — to celebrate the volunteers who give the gift of participation in clinical research. The first annual Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K Run & Walk will coincide with the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2014 Annual Meeting. The event will take place on Monday, June 16, 2014 outside the San Diego Convention Center from 6:45-8:00am. Participants are encouraged to register early as space is limited. To register, visit ciscrp.org/med-hero-5k.

“Medical Heroes are the millions of people who help advance public health and medical knowledge by taking part in clinical trials each year,” said CISCRP’s founder, Ken Getz. “This special event recognizes their gift, raises public awareness and appreciation, and hopefully will become an annual tradition.”

Running and walking enthusiasts and all supporters of CISCRP’s mission are invited to participate or attend the event to show their support. Proceeds from the event will support education and outreach programs to patients and families interested in learning more about the clinical research process.

“We are honored the inaugural offering of the Medical Heroes Appreciation 5K will be held during the 50th Anniversary of DIA’s Annual Meeting.” said Lori Risboskin, DIA’s Associate Director Event Planning & Exhibits. “DIA members understand the importance of clinical research volunteers and appreciate their participation in clinical trials. We’re delighted to help CISCRP launch this special event.”

Registrants will have the opportunity to check-in early on Sunday June 15, 2014 from 8am – 9am, 12pm – 1pm, and 3pm – 6pm to receive event materials and giveaways. Regular check-in the day of the event begins at 6am; and the 5K Run & Walk will begin at 6:45am. For more information about the event, to volunteer, register or become a sponsor, visit ciscrp.org/med-hero-5k. Questions about event registration should go to Ellyn Getz (617) 725-2750, e-mail medhero5k@ciscrp.org, or call toll free 1-877-MED-HERO.

About CISCRP

CISCRP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the public and patients as partners in the clinical research process. CISCRP provides free education and outreach to the general public and patient communities. Visit www.CISCRP.org for more information or to support CISCRP.

About the DIA 2014 50th Annual Meeting

The DIA Annual Meeting is the premier event for professionals involved in the discovery, development and lifecycle management of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and related medical products. No other industry event rivals the depth and breadth of experience that this meeting delivers through 20 interest-area tracks, 260+ program offerings and 18 pre-conference tutorials. The presentations are geared to attendees of all disciplines and experience levels. Visit our website at www.diahome.org and follow DIA at: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest.

https://www.ciscrp.org/programs-events/events/annual-medical-heroes-appreciation-5k/

 

 

TGen News

New therapy for pancreatic cancer patients shows promising results

TGen-Scottsdale Healthcare lead international clinical trials in advance of FDA application for NAPOLI-1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — June 6, 2014 — A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), showed that a new drug called MM-398, given in combination with 5-flourouracil (5FU) and leucovorin, produced a significant overall survival rate in patients with advanced, previously-treated pancreatic cancer.

The NAPOLI-1 (NAnoliPOsomaL Irinotecan) Phase 3 study — a final confirmation of a drug’s safety and effectiveness — was conducted among patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who previously received gemcitibine, which has been the standard-of-care therapy for such patients.

The study, sponsored by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, evaluated 417 patients enrolled at more than 100 sites in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, including patients at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. Merrimack expects to submit a New Drug Application this year to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the MM-398 combination regimen.

“This demonstration of a survival benefit from the MM-398 plus 5-FU and leucovorin combination is particularly important given that we have very few treatment options for patients in this tough clinical setting,” said Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, FACP, global principal investigator of the NAPOLI-1 study, Chief Scientific Officer for Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials and Physician-In-Chief and Distinguished Professor at TGen. “The results of the NAPOLI-1 study are important because of the critical need to help patients with this devastating illness and move forward towards FDA approval.”

The combination of MM-398 with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin achieved an overall survival of 6.1 months, a 1.9 month improvement over the 4.2 month survival demonstrated by the control arm of 5-FU and leucovorin alone.

Each year in the U.S., nearly 46,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and more than 39,000 patients die, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer death. Only about 1 in 4 patients survive more than one year after diagnosis, and only 6 percent survivor more than five years.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer usually do not appear until the cancer is in its late stages, making it difficult to treat. Once the disease spreads to other parts of the body, most patients are not candidates for surgery and receive chemotherapy as their primary treatment.

This study will be presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology World Conference on Gastrointestinal Cancer being held June 25-28 in Barcelona, Spain.

Patients seeking information about research studies may contact the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare at 480-323-1339 or toll free at 1-877-273-3713 or e-mail: clinicaltrials@shc.org.

About the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare
The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Ariz. offers comprehensive cancer treatment and research through clinical trials, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and support services in collaboration with leading scientific researchers and community oncologists. The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare Research Institute, Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center and Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital and related entities are affiliates of the non-profit Scottsdale Lincoln Health Network. For more information, visitwww.shc.org.

About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:www.tgen.org.

 

 

Diamondbacks Pitcher Supports his Best Friend Diagnosed with Brain Cancer

With his best friend set to undergo surgery for a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley was hoping and praying for a sign, some kind of indication that Johnnie Santangelo III was going to be all right.

This was early Tuesday morning. Santangelo was leaving Miley’s house for Barrow Neurological Institute. Miley told him he loved him, and on Santangelo’s way out the door Miley’s dog followed.

“You know how it is early in the morning; I didn’t really wake up good,” Miley said. “I remember him, in a daze I remember him looking back and saying, ‘Don’t worry, Sassy, I’m going to be back to see you.’ That just made me feel good. That comforted me. Him telling the dog that. That’s what stuck with me.”

A day after surgery, things are looking up. Doctors say they have removed the glioblastoma multiforme tumor, and concerns that existed pre-surgery about motor functions or vision problems have been mitigated. They think Santangelo is going to be OK.

“I’ve never been so happy in my life,” Miley said.

It has been a harrowing couple of weeks.

Santangelo and Miley have been best friends since childhood. Santangelo always went by “Little Man,” and it just happened he grew to 6 feet 5. Growing up in Louisiana, the two would hunt, fish, play sports and raise hell.

“Whatever you could think of that kids from the country would do,” Miley said. “There wasn’t a day that went by that we weren’t getting in trouble.”

Most recently, Santangelo, who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2004 but never pitched professionally due to elbow problems, had been running his family’s mushroom farm in Louisiana. But then came the headaches. Bad ones.

“They checked out his nose, checked out his ears and sinuses and all that stuff,” Miley said. “One day his vision got all messed up. They called his dad. His dad thought he was (joking). They took him to the hospital and told him he had a brain tumor. Probably some of the worst news you could ever get.”

Miley heard the news about a half hour before the buses left Salt River Fields for the team’s trip to Australia, and the day after they returned Miley flew to Louisiana. He was worried about how his friend would look, but what he saw was the same old Johnnie. This gave Miley hope.

Every doctor Santangelo visited told him the same thing: the cancer was inoperable. They recommended a laser treatment. Miley mentioned it to Diamondbacks trainer Ken Crenshaw, and a few phone calls led them to Barrow’s Dr. Nader Sanai, who thought surgery was possible. They were told doctors would see him as soon as he could get to Arizona.

And so until Tuesday, Santangelo and his family had been staying at Miley’s house. He went to the hospital early that morning. Miley joined them later and stayed as long as he could, but he was scheduled to face the Giants that day and headed out in the middle of the afternoon.

There was concern about Santangelo not being able to move the left side of his body, but he put those to rest once he came to after surgery, picking up his left leg and fist-pumping.

“I let him squeeze my hand (Wednesday) with his left hand and he almost broke it,” Miley said.

Santangelo is having trouble focusing with his eyes heavily dilated, but doctors don’t think it will last. He watched Miley’s outing from the hospital on Tuesday night with one eye, cursing when Miley hung a slider that Brandon Belt crushed for a three-run homer in the first inning. But Miley settled down, got through seven innings and the Diamondbacks won, and after the game Miley delivered two game balls to his friend.

“He had both of them in his hands, juggling and messing with them,” Miley said. “It meant a lot when I handed those to him.”

Santangelo also gave Miley a hard time for not giving him a shoutout in his postgame interviews.

“He’s a big hunter, so he was like, ‘Get my name out there, I might get a hunting trip out of it,’ ” Miley said.

Miley said Santangelo, who has a 4-inch scar on the back of his head, will probably head home to heal and rest before coming back to start radiation and chemo.

“He’s doing about the best I can imagine,” Miley said. “I was scared to death about what I was going to see. He’s as good as he can be. He’s not out of the woods, but he’s a whole hell of a lot better than he was doing three days ago when that tumor was still in there.”

Link to the story on azcentral.com

 

Learn About Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer

A disease of the brain in which cancer cells (malignant) arise in the brain tissue. Cancer cells grow to form a mass of cancer tissue (tumor) that interferes with brain functions such as muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions.

Brain Tumor

An abnormal growth of tissue in the brain.  Unlike other tumors, brain tumors spread by local extension and rarely metastasize (spread) outside the brain.

Clinical Trials

Research studies done to determine whether new drugs, treatments, or vaccines are safe and effective.  They are conducted in three phases:

  • Phase I
    In this phase, small groups of people are treated with a certain dose of a new agent that has been extensively studied in the laboratory. During the trial, the dose is increased group by group to find the highest dose that does not cause harmful side effects. Usually there is no control treatment for comparison. This process determines a safe, appropriate dose for use in Phase II.
  • Phase II
    This phase provides continued safety testing of a new agent, along with an evaluation of how well it works against a specific type of cancer. The new agent is given to groups of people and is usually compared with a standard treatment.
  • Phase III
    This phase answers research questions across the disease continuum and includes large numbers of participants so that the differences in effectiveness of the new agent can be evaluated. If the results of this phase merit further use of the new agent, the pharmaceutical company will usually submit a New Drug Application to the FDA.

Diagnostics

The determination of the nature of a disease or ailment.  A clinical diagnosis is based on the medical history and physical examination of the patient.

Glial Cells

Cells that provide structure to the central nervous system and insulate and protect neurons (cells that transmit electrical impulses that allow seeing/hearing/smelling/tasting).

Glioma

The term used to refer to the most prevalent primary brain tumors.  Gliomas arise from glial tissue, which supports and nourishes cells that send messages from the brain to other parts of the body.

Glioblastoma

Also known as glioblastoma multiforme, this is the most common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans, involving glial cells and accounting for 52 percent of all functional tissue brain tumor cases and 20 percent of all intracranial tumors.

GBM

GBM is an abbreviation for glioblastoma multiforme.

Translational Genomics

Innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project, applying them to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases