Since 2006, Dr. Jesse Stoff (onco-immunologist) has been involved in supporting other research groups and foundations through his own nonprofit entity called S.I.M.R. (Stoff Institute for Medical Research) and has recently established a public project called Awareness For A Cure (AFAC).
“With the help of a few friends,” AFAC was inspired by a host of cancer foundations and members of the Long Island Caregivers Group geared at creating a resource for all Long Island-directed grants, 5k walks/races and fundraising efforts to raise money to find a cure for debilitating diseases.
“There are so many ways to join the fight against cancer,” said Stoff. “Being a health practitioner is one way, but having public resources to get patients funding, education, treatment options or services to help them restore their lives is also a major home run for so many.”
One of Stoff’s major allies in this philanthropic mission Annie Brandt, founder of Best Answer For Cancer (BAFC), www.bestanswerforcancer.org, cancer survivor turned advocate and global educational crusader for the many treatment and survival options. BAFC is an international organization of doctors and patients working to shift the cancer paradigm from a one-size-fits-all disease-based approach to a patient-centered, integrative medical approach—supporting integrative oncology that addresses the disease while considering the uniqueness of each patient.
“We wish to empower physicians and patients to adopt the newer, more successful paradigm—we believe the best answer for cancer is an approach that destroys the cancer while enhancing the overall health of the patient,” said Brandt.
BAFC became one of the founding partners for Awareness for a Cure by helping to of support the many notable organizations on Long Island. The new Long Island branch is committed to sharing all Island-based special events, spotlighting the vision of the founders and helping fundraisers through social media and seeking out volunteers.
AFAC’s objectives to bring awareness, resources and hope to the community also includes featuring the tremendous spirit behind local fundraiser projects and events.
One of the many headliners of the upcoming Awareness News series is Ginny Salerno, founder and executive director of LI2DAY (www.li2daywalk.org) whose personal life’s work is to establish the massive undertaking of producing breast cancer walks on Long Island. In 2003, Salerno returned from a national breast cancer walk and was inspired to bring a multi-day walk to Long Island where 100 percent of the funds raised by walkers would stay on Long Island to be distributed by grassroots breast cancer service and support organizations. With sheer determination, family, friends and the support from local politicians and businesses, the inaugural LI2Day Breast Cancer Walk took place in Suffolk County in June of 2004 and raised $291,000. Now into its 14th year, local grassroots organizations from south Nassau and Manhasset to Montauk Point are receiving funds to fight breast cancer and other women’s cancers.
More than $6 million has been raised in 14 years.
In a recent on-air interview at WBAB/WBLI with AFAC’s first partner organization, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Jamie Lamarca, patient access manager, Stoff announced his centralized awareness platform and a resource directory for disease patients.
“I visit hospitals and oncology offices across Long Island to raise awareness about LLS and what we can do to help,” said LaMarca. “When a patient is first diagnosed, they are thrown into a world they certainly don’t want to be in. An easily accessible support system is really important for any patient—and as a social worker, it’s a passion of mine to bring support, education and offer financial assistance.”
Awareness for a Cure is also underway with various productions of a video series called “Survivor Stories.” This program spotlights volunteer survivors who escaped the throes of a deadly disease. One of the many upcoming mini-biographies of Survivor Stories include Rachel Klein—a Long Island mom who shares a then-to-now perspective of what it was like to first get the diagnosis and with the help of cancer foundations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, she received the help she needed to stay alive and regain her quality of life for years to come.
In the ongoing battle against cancer, the list of charities, foundations and grants also continues to grow. Coordinators of the Long Island AFAC efforts continue their mission to seek out, meet and learn about each remarkable organization and bring awareness about their work.
“By listing grants, sharing fundraiser feature stories and establishing a publication that supports the cancer community with people-based information, we are joining the front lines of the fight by arming all sufferers with a true society that is truly on their side,” said Laurel Muckey, AFAC co-editor.