Friday, July 24, 2009

Gator Gala 2009 - Fight Against Breast Cancer!

The Collaboration of Scientists for Critical Research in Biomedicine, Inc. (CSCRB) is comprised of a group of current graduate students and alumni from the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Science at UF (this is the program I'm in too). The group works as a nonprofit to help raise awareness and funds for research in areas that they feel are currently lacking attention.

For example, one of their committee member's mother was recently diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC), a very rare form but one that spreads rapidly. Her mother chose a treatment program that promised to prolong her life for anywhere between 2 months and 2 years...unfortulately, she passed away only 6 weeks later. Her diagnosis, however, sparked these graduate students to conduct literature searches to see what research has been done about TNBC. To their surprise and horror, very little was known about TNBC - except that there is no effective treatment for it!

You see, cancers usually secrete certain hormones in order to grow. Cancer treatments usually target these hormones to prevent their growth and cause the cancer to slowly die. However, TNBC secretes none of the hormones that you usually see from cancer so scientists and doctors have been unable to develop effective treatments against it.

Earlier this year, the CSCRB hosted a 5K run/walk fundraiser. They got a terriffic turn-out and raised a lot of money, but their ultimate goal is to fund a seed grant at UF for a laboratory to specifically research TNBC. They began planning the Gator Gala in hopes of reaching their goal. Recently, I was recruited by the group (I know, you were beginning to wonder what any of this had to do with me, right?) because of my abilities to "decorate my house"!

The theme of the Gala was Set Sail for Discovery, and I was put in charge of event decorations. Of course, I volunteered to do the cake too! I, in turn, recruited Elise, whose major in event planning REALLY came in handy! The event was a success! We had a silent auciton, heavy hor d'oeuvres provided by Cabana Cove Caribbean Grill (yummy!), my cake, a special ballet performance, a jazz band, and a keynote address! The numbers are still being crunched, but so far it looks like at least 100 people came to the event (some people purchased tickets but didn't come to the event) and we raised at least $10,000!

My Cake:

Unfortunately, it was a very rainy day so my waves wilted a bit...but you knew it was supposed to look like water, right? Gotta love this Florida humidity! Anyway, each of the four tiers was a different flavor:
-Gluten-free chocolate cake with raspberry cream filling
-Yellow cake with lemon curd and raspberry cream filling
-Chocolate cake with honey-soaked bananas and peanut butter filling (this seemed to be everyone's favorite)
-Yellow cake with orange cream filling

Here's a photo of the Gala in action! All the volunteers worked hard while guests began to check-in:

Oh, did I mention that the president of UF came??? Oh yes, here is Deborah posing with Chris & Bernie Machen!

Our jazz band:

Here is a photo of me, Nicole, and Elise hanging out by the silent auction:

This is Edith Perez (a pioneer in TNCB research and our keynote speaker) and Lisa (the president of CSCRB)

Me, Elise, and Michelle (both the Gator Gala and the 5K were done in her mother's honor). During the Gala, Michelle gave a beautiful speech, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the crowd.
In honor of the Gator Gala, I'm giving away this great book Cancer Vixen! It's a graphic novel, meaning it's written in comic strip format, and it's a really good read! I won it at the Gala's silent auction and thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but now I want to pass it on so someone else can read it!

Everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another - whether you've had it yourself or you know someone who has. To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment about how cancer has touched your life - or just say hi! I'm going to the ICES convention next week (woohoo!) so this contest will run until August 3rd. For those of you having trouble leaving comments, just click the link that says how many comments have been left for this post (underneath this post). A pop-up window should come up allowing you to leave a comment!


Sue said...

Impressive results for a worthy cause! Your cake still looks great, humidity or not.
My mom, your grandmother, is a breast cancer survivor. Yay!

Mel said...

Left on behalf of Shirley: Just wanted you to know its a great cause and cancer touches everyone, even my Dad. I work with cancer pts everyday and hear some very sad stories everyday.
Dr. Perez is involved in Jax at the Mayo clinic, everyone knows her.

Mel said...

Posted on behalf of Cindy from Cake Central (username: Bobwonderbuns):

Hi, For whatever reason I cannot get my cancer story to post on your blog so I'm telling you here:

Hi, I appreciate your work with people affected by cancer -- I feel the same way. 15 years ago I had cervical cancer, two strains. When one gets cervical cancer they either get one strain or the other. I had adamen carcenoma insitu (spelled phoenetically) and squeamuscell carcenoma insitu also (the same kind of cancer Farrah Fawcett had but in a different place.) The more aggressive one came back the following year and after two operations and a hysterectomy I was just fine. Since then I've done a lot of work at Gilda's Club of Metro Detroit, named for famed commedienne Gilda Radner who died of Ovarian Cancer at age 44. I taught the cookie decorating class there for years and so many of my students were women who had chemo in the morning, came to cookie class in the afternoon to get their minds off their problems because they knew they couldn't move for the next week. It was a very gratifying time. Many of my students made such great cookies that I posted them in my student creations section of my website. I would like to get back into working with cancer patients at some point so we'll just see what the Lord allows. Keep up the good work! Cindy (aka Bobwonderbuns) Very Happy

P.S. (You can see my Gilda cookies at my website

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