For our community, May is perhaps of the most important month of the year. It’s a month that the entire brain tumor community in the United States – patients, survivors, caregivers, patient advocacy groups, families, friends, and other loved ones affected by this disease – come together to “Go Gray in May” for National Brain Tumor Awareness Month. (And this year we’re happy that Canada will be moving their Brain Tumor Awareness Month from October to May to align with us in America!)
For a disease that is often called “rare,” it is our built-in yearly opportunity to unite and show the rest of the country how many people have been, and are still, impacted by brain tumors. It’s our opportunity to come together and highlight the strength of our community. It is our opportunity to let it be known that we are fighting every day, and we won’t stop until we make brain tumors a manageable disease and then ultimately reach our goal of a cure.
Earlier this week in a press release and a blog we laid out our plans for Brain Tumor Awareness Month 2016 – which we are styling this year as Brain Tumor ACTION Month, because of the need for everyone in the community to not just raise awareness, but take action to help propel our cause forward.
While May, and many of these events we hold annually during the month, is always an important time, I am exceptionally encouraged going into Brain Tumor Awareness ACTION Month 2016 because we are doing so with some significant momentum:
- Just last week, we hosted in-person retreat for our Defeat GBM Research Collaborative teams to get together, discuss progress, share information and ideas, identify what findings to date are ready to be pushed forward toward clinical trials for high-grade gliomas, and build action plans for recent discoveries. The group identified four potential areas that may be ready for rapid translation.
- Thanks to the oligodendroglioma community, last week we also announced $1 million dollars in funding to four projects researching low-grade gliomas.
- We have seen six papers published – often barometers of progress for ongoing research efforts – already this year in scientific and medical journals based on NBTS research funding, including four from Defeat GBM-funded researchers. The most recent of these, coming in mid-April, described a new way gliomas can escape the effects of treatment and allows researchers to identify ways to overcome treatment resistance.
- And, finally, we saw brain tumor receive strong representation on the Blue Ribbon Panel of experts that was recently selected to help guide the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative that Vice President Joe Biden is leading. Joining myself on this esteemed panel are Drs. Mitch Berger (UCSF) and Al Yung (MD Anderson Cancer Center), both experts in the field of brain tumor research and treatment.
So let’s keep the momentum going throughout May, together. I hope to see some of you at Race for Hope, Head to the Hill, and/or Ependymoma Awareness Day next week in Washington, D.C. And I hope that those not able to make it to our nation’s capital will view the other ways you can join us and take action during May by visiting our Brain Tumor Awareness ACTION Month webpage here.
With Sincere Gratitude,
David F. Arons, JD
Chief Executive Officer
National Brain Tumor Society