Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Bake Sale: December 2013

My first month of fundraising was a successful one! Kristen and I took the day off work this past Wednesday in order to fulfill our Thanksgiving orders of mini-pies and cheesecakes. These packages turned out great, and we even sampled them during our own Thanksgiving dinner with Kristen's family :)

As of today, I've raised over $1300 towards my goal of $10,000.  Still a long way to go, but hey, I haven't even started training for the race yet, so there's still a lot of time.

I have barely had enough time to send out all of my thank-you's and here we are, a week into December! So for anyone who is looking for a holiday package, you'll find details at the bottom of this post. But before we start thinking about dessert again, I want to remind you of why your contributions to my campaign are so important.

Last year, I wrote a few blog posts in which I made mention of someone I knew who had received a cancer diagnosis: my grandfather (prostate), father (prostate and melanoma), myself (basil cell), and a few friends of mine from high school (including Michael Robertson, who shared his story of surviving stage IV colorectal cancer on the White House Blog earlier this week). I decided I'm long overdue to write about my mom.

Eight years ago, my mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer, a few weeks before my brother Eric's wedding. That summer she had a lumpectomy, followed by 8 rounds of chemotherapy. After that, it was radiation, 5 days a week, 33 trips in total. Today, she still has two more years of hormone therapy planned.

The chemo made my mom really sick, and she lost her hair. Her eyebrows, eyelashes, and fingernails will never be the same as they were before the therapy, and she will live the remainder of her life with a weakened heart. I won't bother to enumerate all of the other side effects, and couldn't even begin to describe the emotional impacts. Battling breast cancer sucks.

Two years after my mom's diagnosis, her sister received one. Their mother, Grandpa Dave's wife Velma, is also a survivor. I'm extremely thankful that my mother, my aunt, and my grandmother are all still alive today. But this is not due to a stroke of luck-- their survival was largely due to effective drug therapies which have kept their cancers in remission.

Estrogen is an essential hormone involved in normal breast cell development, and it's believed that a lifelong exposure to estrogen can increase breast cancer risk. As such, many breast cancer patients are prescribed drugs like Tamoxofin (which my aunt took) and Anastrozole (which my mom still takes) that inhibit the enzyme responsible for synthesizing estrogen. These drugs have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of recurrence and thereby have contributed to improved survival rates over the past few decades.

However, the level of effectiveness of these drugs depends on how resistant the patient may be (or become) to them, and the mechanical reasons for their successes and failures has not been wholly understood. In 2002-2003, Dr. Miles Brown of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was a key author in several papers (such as this one) describing how individual genes which encode our estrogen receptors may be correlated to drug resistance. With a better understanding of the pathways involved in estrogen synthesis and the genetic markers behind them, it's expected that this research will lead to new drugs and treatments which will continue to improve survival rates. Dr. Brown's work was made possible, in part, by funding from the Barr Program.

There is not yet a cure for cancer, but with recurrence risk approaching zero, a diagnosis may feel more like a scary and painful inconvenience, rather than a death sentence. Eventually, someone you know will receive a cancer diagnosis, and the chances of his or her survival will only improve with further research, which requires funding.

And hey, if you want something in return for your contribution, how 'bout some holiday desserts? Any of the packages below would make a great gift for family and friends, all proceeds benefitting the Barr Program.

Suggested donation for each item below: $50.

Candy BoxA sampler including:

  • Toffee
  • Pumpkin Caramels
  • Peanut Brittle
  • Marshmallows
Cookie BoxA sampler including:

  • Snickerdoodles
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread
  • Festive Decorated Sugar Cookies(cardinals, holly, and snowflakes)
Cookie Mix JarsThree quart-sized jars filled with all of the dry ingredients needed to make the following cookies (instructions included):

  • Chocolate Oatmeal Pecan
  • Butterscotch Chip
  • White Chocolate Macadamia
Breakfast BasketThe Home for the Holidays breakfast basket returns!  This year's basket includes:
  • Almond-apricot granola
  • Coffee
  • Vanilla-bean chocolate chip scones
  • Cranberry walnut bread
    Fig, honey and pecan bread

Pick-up dates: Monday, December 23rd or Tuesday, December 24th

Order deadline: Wednesday, December 18th
To place an order: Send an email to with details about what you'd like to purchase and when you'll need it. Payment can be made upon pick-up, with a check made out to Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. Alternatively, you can submit your donation online: