A Celebration of Life
Today’s post was written by Bert E. Thomas IV, PhD, MBA, CEO of the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
Each year, the Sarcoma Foundation of America holds its annual gala, “A Celebration of Life,” in New York City to raise money to support our sarcoma research efforts. This evening serves as an opportunity to generate the funds needed to invest in the kind of innovative and novel research that brings us closer to new treatments and, ultimately, to the cure for sarcoma.
But “A Celebration of Life” goes well beyond simply being a fundraising event.
The SFA sees “A Celebration of Life” as an evening to honor the heroes in the sarcoma community whose actions move us towards better patient outcomes and whose stories inspire the hope necessary for all sarcoma patients to fight their cancer. These heroes come in all forms; they are patients, survivors, caregivers, healthcare providers, researchers, and those whose work is dedicated to creating new therapies and treatments.
While the sarcoma ecosystem is made up of different stakeholders, patients are the center of everything that the SFA does. Each year we honor a number of patients with Courage Awards. These awards are meant to bring light to the courageous battle that every patient fights when they have sarcoma. By highlighting some of the inspiring patient stories we encounter, the SFA hopes to raise disease awareness and the understanding of the need for more sarcoma research.
In the trenches with the patients are caregivers and family members. It has been said that when a person gets cancer, the family gets cancer. Having had the chance to talk with many caregivers and family members, I believe this to be true. The more support that a patient receives from friends and family, the easier it is to persevere in the fight against sarcoma. The SFA has had the privilege of honoring many of these caregivers and loved ones over the years.
Sarcoma is a complex, diverse set of diseases, with potentially more than 100 different subtypes. The doctors who treat sarcoma require an extraordinary knowledge of the disease to provide the best treatment plan to each patient to result in the best patient outcomes. We are blessed as a community to have so many dedicated brilliant doctors to care for our patients. Along with providing patient care, many of these doctors are also amazing researchers, dedicating their “free” time to understanding the underlying causes of sarcoma, as well as conducting clinical trials to evaluate experimental sarcoma therapies. Each year the SFA recognizes the dedication of these brilliant doctors/researchers by awarding one particular person who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in researching sarcoma and treating sarcoma patients with the Nobility in Science award.
The SFA also acknowledges that the patient journey is made more bearable by the exceptional nurses that provide a different, yet equally important care for each and every patient. I have heard amazing stories from patients who believe they would not have made it through to survivorship without the help and care of their nurses. To honor these important contributions, the SFA presents the Compassionate Care award to an exceptional nurse each year.
The last honor presented each year is the Vision of Hope award. This award can be presented to a person or organization whose achievements provide real increased hope for better patient outcomes in the future. Awardees receiving this honor have contributed to the sarcoma community in a significant way, whether it was through their efforts to raise awareness and research dollars, or by their work to help bring a new therapy to market. The Vision of Hope award honors these deserving visionaries whose efforts have resulted in the advancement of care, treatment, and hope for sarcoma patients.
Any day lost by a patient to sarcoma is one too many days lost. The whole of the sarcoma community is in this fight together. With perseverance, hard work and dedication to our patients, we will find a cure to this insidious disease. And for that reason we honor all of our stakeholders at our galas each and every year.
At the 2017 “A Celebration of Life” gala, the SFA will once again acknowledge and honor the stories and the efforts of an inspiring group of awardees.
NOBILITY IN SCIENCE AWARD
Gary K. Schwartz, MD
Chief of Hematology and Oncology
Columbia University School of Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital
Professor of Medicine
Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Richard A. Moscicki, MD
Deputy Center Director for Science Operations
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
VISION OF HOPE AWARD
COMPASSIONATE CARE AWARD
Yelena Ustoyev, AGPCNP-BC