Monday, May 21, 2012

Roswell Park in Buffalo

In my 29 years, I've been "touched" by cancer in too many ways. My Grandma died of pancreatic cancer, and I have dozens of other family, friends, co-workers and neighbors who have passed away from lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and the list goes on. 

While we all face the tragedy of cancer on a daily basis, we are extremely fortunate in Buffalo to have Roswell Park. For over 110 years, Roswell Park has led the charge world wide to research and find better treatment options for those with cancer. 

In 1898, Dr. Roswell Park established what would later be known as Roswell Park Cancer Institute. It was the first institute to focus on cancer treatment and research in the world. Research initially started in three rooms at the University of Buffalo's School of Medicine, but they quickly outgrew the space. A dedicated group of Buffalonians raised money to expand the facilities, and in 1901 The Gratwick Research Laboratory was opened on Elm and High Street. The building was named after Mrs. William Gratwick who donated $25,000 towards the new facility. 
In 1904, Dr. Park stepped down as Executive Director, but remained the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for many more years. The Institute has changed names a few times throughout its history, but there is no better name for it than Roswell Park. Dr. Park's vision and passion for cancer research and treatment have helped millions, and continue to bring us closer to a cure.

When I spoke with Heidi Findlay at Roswell Park she told me that one in every two men, and one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their life. Quality is not just something they talk about at Roswell Park - it is something that they have over 100 years of data to back it up with. Data shows their care is better than other cancer providers meaning improved quality of life and in many cases, a longer life expectancy. Their cancer "research" (which some critics may consider "guinea pig" research) is the most advanced treatment available for patients to consider with their physicians.

Besides the overwhelming success they have had with cancer research and treatment options, locally they are one of the biggest employers in Western New York. They employ approximately 3,400 people, and have had a tremendous impact on the local economy.

While I could write for hours about their big accomplishments through the years, I do want to note that Roswell Park developed the first chemotherapy program and pioneered the use of various tests, therapies and treatment options for cancer. Earlier this year, Roswell Park announced the creation of a vaccine that had the potential to kill cancer cells and prevent relapses. While the vaccine is just beginning its trial phase, this could potentially change the treatment and care for patients with cancer. 

Roswell Park is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation. They receive funding from scientific grants in the public and private sectors, government investments, income from care provided, and philanthropy. While monetary donations are always needed, Roswell Park is looking for donations of blood and platelets, which are urgently needed everyday.

Many types of cancers can be prevented with just some simple (and obvious) lifestyle modifications: Don't smoke, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. The staff I spoke with also said its important to know your family medical history and take advantage of all the screenings available at the appropriate ages, or younger if there is a history of cancer in your family. 

This summer on June 23rd, I will be participating in my very first Ride for Roswell event, as part of my "12 Missions in '12" campaign. I will be biking 20 miles in honor of and in memory of all the people I know who have lost their lives to cancer. It has been a personal goal of mine for years to get back on a bike and do this event. In high school I was in a biking accident and refused to get back on a bike since. My boyfriend finally convinced me last summer when we spent the day on Toronto Island and toured the island on bikes. I am looking forward to making a difference for Roswell Park, and conquering this fear of mine. If you are interested in making a donation on behalf of my ride you can make one online
here. Any donation would be greatly appreciated and celebrated by me for the rest of the year! I'm also looking for team members for Lovin' On Buffalo's team, and if you are interested, drop me a message at

Roswell Park should be considered a place of FIRST resort when you hear the word cancer, and a place of HOPE to beat cancer. 

"Cancer is a word, not a sentence!" - John Diamond

1 comment:

  1. The ride definetly worth it! Hope it raises a lot of donations!