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Fins To The Left, Fins To The Right - Thank you!

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Please excuse the common post across multiple forums, but it's important to me that my sincere expression of thanks is seen by it's intended recipients, for supporting my efforts in 2008. - Thank you.


It is an indescribable amount of appreciation that brings me here to thank you for supporting my efforts towards eradicating cancer through the years and especially during 2008. Whether you donated flies, plugs, rods or reels for auctions, bid on those auctions, or donated to the The Jimmy Fund by sponsoring my ride directly, please accept my most sincere thanks and gratitude. The outpouring of generosity from so many of you helped raise HALF of my $12,000 goal! 100% of your donation goes directly to The Jimmy Fund as part of the record gift from PMC 2008 of $35,000,000 ! That's impressive and you should all be very proud to contribute to a cause that helps and, most importantly, saves so many lives by funding new research and providing support, during and well after treatment.

You probably never imagined, however, that your support is directly connected to curing cancer by the very creature that brings us together...FISH! Zebra Fish to be precise - a small fresh water "striper"! Yes, indeed, the same danio rerio from your tropical aquarium is on the forefront of cancer research. But not just ordinary Zebra Fish, TRANSPARENT zebra fish! You can read more about the use of zebra fish in research here here . To read about how "Casper" was created you can go here .

While zebra fish have been used for this type of research for a few years now, "Casper", the transparent mutation, allows for detailed visualization of metastasizing cancer cells within a living organism (the fish are temporarily made to sleep with a chemical anesthesia and then woken up after being viewed under a microscope, or ultrasound). They also reproduce and grow very quickly, allowing for research with generations of fish within weeks. This has progressed the pace of fundamental research on metastasis exponentially. What took months and years (mostly with mice), now takes weeks, often just days.

I recently had the pleasure of being the guest of Dr. Wolfram Goessling at the Leonard Zon Zebra Fish laboratory at Children's Hospital, Boston. I had a meeting at Dana-Farber and on quite short notice Wolfram received me like royalty, providing an extremely informative and interesting experience. Below is a picture of this research hero - a man who has dedicated his life to the eradication of a disease. He also works in the treatment clinic when he's not inventing - very rare. On either side are many little tanks of fish, almost 200,000 fish in total over a few more rows to the left and right. This was the first time I went to Childrens without Sam and it felt strange. But within minutes I was excited about what I was about to see and hear. After going through a rigid security screening, we made our way down an elevator (accessible by card key only) then through two similarly secure doors.




Pretty fish... pretty amazing (these aren't Caspers, in fact there were many different colors including ones that contain a glow gene where they can actually trace the movement of cancer cells using black light)! It was hard to get a picture of the transparent ones as my point and shoot wouldn't focus on them. :-)




The "pairing rack", where mates go on dates!





Zebra fish embryo, alive. I could see it's heart beating. I took this picture by putting my camera against the eyepiece of the microscope, pretty good eh?



You can see a great new virtual tour of the brand new Zebra Fish Research labs here! . Check it out, it's pretty slick.

While there, we visited the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Bridge To Progress at Dana-Farber, built in 1997 to connect The Jimmy Fund Clinic to the new Smith Research Labs. Every time I walk across the bridge, I see something new. Lately, there's been a big change in the view from the bridge, thanks to construction of the new Yawkee Center for Cancer Care.



Inside the bridge, which "brings research from the lab bench to the bed."



The PMC collage, containing pictures from as far back as the start of the PMC in the 80's...


A case full of PMC mementos...



Sam on the bridge in 2006...



Dr. Goessling's work is quite unique and exciting. The current treatment for late stage hepatoblastoma, which was the case for Kayleigh, is a liver transplant and chemo. Imagine being told your child has liver cancer and will need chemo, but first they have to find her a new liver. Well, that's exactly what Kayleigh and her family have endured since January. Due to research by Dr. Goessling, many other children may not have to. His research is dedicated to finding a way to prevent these types of cancers. Yes, prevent. Wolfram didn't stop at curing existing cancers, he is working on a pill that high risk kids can take so they won't get liver cancer. Yes, a pill. His work, and the other fish based research in the Zon lab, has far reaching benefits into cancer metastasis in general. In fact, as I was writing this, I got an email from Wolfram himself saying, "we have good news, one of our recent big advances that directly relates to hepatoblastoma will be coming out in print soon; and another one, this dealing more with leukemia, is going to clinical trial at DFCI in the spring." The advances won't stop there as I'm aware of other work in the same lab on several other forms of cancer, including melanoma (which always reminds me to remind you to wear that sun screen and a hat when out on the water!)


You may recall TitaniumSam and I visiting Kayleigh after catching another big Celtics win this past spring. She was still getting chemo and needed a feeding tube since she wasn't eating. But, as always, she was still smiling and earned the title "Kevlar Kayleigh".



And here she is a few short months later, at the Lakeville, MA 80 mile rest stop during the PMC.



In October, she was packing for her Make-A-Wish trip to Disney - her first time. Her wish was for a princess to read a bedtime story to her in the castle. However, Kayleigh became quite sick - again - and was rushed to Childrens for emergency surgery. Apparently the surgery from her liver transplant and appendix before that (the original surgery where the liver cancer was detected) caused adhesions that wrapped around her intestines, making her very sick. Although she had to postpone her Disney wish until December, she came through the surgery wonderfully and here she is when Renee and I visited her...



Kevlar Kayleigh after her self-applied makeover!



My goal in writing this was to hopefully bring full circle how your generous donations are used, how they are working to save lives as well as increase the quality of life for survivors.

Thank you! clapping.gif


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