Friday Frontline: Motorcycle Club Rallies to Raise Funds for Fellow Rider and Ovarian Cancer Survivor, World Health Organization Announces the Global Breast Cancer Initiative and More

March 12, 2021
Jessica Skarzynski
Jessica Skarzynski

From a Louisiana-based motorcycle club holding a 57-mile ride to raise money for a fellow member with ovarian cancer to the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing an initiative to reduce global breast cancer mortality by 2.5 million by 2040, here’s what’s happening in the cancer space this week.

An ovarian cancer survivor received support from their motorcycle club friends to help pay for medical bills.

The Christian Riders of Pineville and Taboo Harley-Davidson in Alexandria, Louisiana, held a benefit ride earlier this month for Doris Norris, 60, and her husband, Terry, to help pay for medical bills and other expenses they incurred while traveling to Shreveport where Norris received treatment.

“Whatever it takes to help Terry and Doris,” Ken Coody, president of the Christian Riders of Pineville, told the local news outlet, “Town Talk.” "We've got a great club that enjoys doing this stuff right here so we're going to try to do the best we can to make as much money for them today as we can."

Norris, who also took part in the ride with Terry, completed her final treatment earlier this month.

A medical student with osteosarcoma is ready to risk COVID-19 to help patients despite not knowing how much time she has left to live.

Krista Bose, 27, has just a few more months of training before she qualifies as a doctor in the United Kingdom. But her dream of becoming a doctor is currently being threatened not just by the COVID-19 pandemic, but by the fact that she is facing cancer for the second time in her life.

Bose’s cancer was first found by doctors while she was completing a surgical internship in 2018, just two years into her training. Metal rods now replace some of the bones in her leg as a result of the cancer, but she remained undaunted. "During the first wave of the pandemic, I felt very, very guilty, that I couldn't help," Bose told CNN. "To feel like you have the skills, you have the knowledge, you could be an asset to those patients, it's hard to feel like you're wasting away on the sidelines."

While she was able to return to training, chest pains in October 2020 brought her back to the hospital, where she discovered that the cancer had returned and spread to the lining of her lungs. Although the immune-system-weakening treatments that Bose underwent could put her at a greater risk of contracting the infection, she is hopeful now that new a new treatment plan that involves Cabometyx (cabozantinib) could give her more time to help as many people as possible, despite her cancer being incurable.

"If I do have the good fortune to live more than a year, I want to spend it working and living and doing what I love,” Bose said. “I don't want to sit on the couch for two years and watch Netflix."

A Florida-based high school kayaking team has raised more than $1 million to help fight cancer.

The Castaways Against Cancer team at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami was founded by teacher Steve O’Brien in 2000 after his own mother’s death from cancer. Each summer, the team paddles from Miami to Key West over the course of seven days to raise money for cancer research.

In 21 years of kayaking, the team has raised more than $1.2 million for the cause, and is currently preparing for their 2021 trek, which kicks off on June 12. This year, the team will be partnering with the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center for the second year in a row.

“Steve O’Brien’s vision to ‘light a candle instead of cursing the darkness’ after his mother’s death inspires all the Castaways to fundraise with passion and paddle with vigor,” said team captain Eric Pino, a teacher and coach at the school who is a graduate of the class of 2000.

“We paddle for every person who has heard the words, ‘You have cancer.’ It’s that simple. We kayak, you donate, and we all pray for a cure.”

A new World Health Organization (WHO) initiative aims to reduce global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year until 2040.

The Global Breast Cancer Initiative was announced on March 8th, in recognition of International Women’s Day, and will ultimately avert an estimated 2.5 million deaths.

The announcement comes as breast cancer has now overtaken lung cancer as the world’s most commonly-diagnosed cancer, and has been identified as being responsible for one in six of all cancer deaths in women, according to December 2020 data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

By focusing on three pillars of health promotion, timely diagnosis and comprehensive treatment and supportive care, the initiative has a particular focus on improving survival rates in low-income countries, which are sometimes as low as 40%, compared to more than 80% in most high-income countries.

“Although we have seen substantive progress in reducing breast cancer mortality in many high-income countries during the last two decades, little progress has been made in low-and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, Director of the Department of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO.

“The higher mortality in these lower-income countries is a result of late-stage diagnosis and inadequate access to quality care. Together, we can address this unacceptable inequity.”

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