It’s hard to believe that our second full year as Living For Liz has already passed!  Our goals when we started were simple.  First and foremost we wanted to help lung cancer patients that didn’t have the incredible support that Elizabeth had by starting our very own Patient Assistance programs.  Secondly we wanted to help fund, and therefore advance, lung cancer research so other families didn’t have to go through what we went through.  And lastly we set a plan in place so that we could grow every year.  We are so thrilled that we have been able to meet all three goals in each of our first two years!

Our Patient Assistance programs continue to grow, helping more and more people each year.  We will touch on these programs very soon as we are on the brink of some very exciting news. Today, however, we are going to announce which research programs we are funding in 2015.  This is always a very difficult decision for us to make.  After all, it isn’t our money that is going to these projects; it’s YOURS.  We really want to make sure that we get the most bang foryour buck.  Keeping this in mind there are a few things that we look for when reviewing possible studies to help fund.  One of the questions that we ask ourselves is ‘how passionate is this researcher about this disease?’  This is big.  We make sure that the people we work with are in it for the patients, not just a paycheck.  If they pass the first test they move on to the second- ‘is this research something that could have lasting implications in the fight against lung cancer?’  This is always a very difficult thing to determine.  Every single researcher out there hopes that his or her project is the one that will eventually lead to a cure (we do too).  But we have to do our best to sift through each and every project and find the really impactful ones.  We’ll be completely honest with you- we knocked it out of the park this year!  We have decided to split up our research funds for 2015 and donate to two different studies.

The first one that we decided to help fund is Dr. Carl Simon Shelley’s research right here in La Crosse, at Gundersen Health System.  We are VERY excited to give $7,000.00 to Dr. Shelley to help further his efforts in exploring the implications of the CD43 molecule in the fight against lung cancer.  The CD43 molecule is basically a Teflon-like barrier that lung cancer can produce on its own tumors preventing the immune system, or even chemotherapy, from attaching to it and destroying it.  Dr. Shelley is one of the most passionate researchers that we have ever met, and with his discovery of the CD43 molecule and the further exploring he and his team are doing, we sincerely believe that we will soon start changing the survival rates that lung cancer brings with it at later stages of the disease. This is our second year funding this research, and it really is paying off!  Gundersen Health System is planning on expanding their lab this year and adding another researcher to aid Dr. Shelley in his programs.  We are very proud to be able to help make this happen!

The second project that we are excited to help fund is called Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Research and is a part of the Addario Lung Cancer Medial Institute (ALCMI- pronounced ‘alchemy’).  One thing that we noticed when we started Living For Liz is that the lung cancer community seemed to notice a rise in the occurrence of lung cancer in young patients.  Another thing that we noticed was that there wasn’t any research trying to determine why that was happening.  The Young Lung project (happening both in the US and Europe) is trying to lay the groundwork to figure that out.  Can you see why we feel so connected to this one?  In talking to Steven Young, President and COO of ALCMI, we feel we are all in the same fight for the exact same reasons.  We are very proud to donate $10,000.00 to this project. We feel that this study is going to take off very quickly, and we are so happy to be a part of it!

Well there you have it!  When we started out we said that we would do our due diligence to make sure that you could be proud of where your money was going.  We really hope that you are as excited as we are about the impact that we are starting to make.  And we’ve only just begun— we still have to update you on our Patience Assistance Programs!   More on that VERY soon.

It’s all happening because of your generosity.  From random donations to event registration to taking a chance on a raffle at one of our events, YOU are making a difference!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!