V 24/7

The Fight Against Gastric Cancer

The V Foundation would like to extend special thanks to our guest blogger, JP Gallagher of The Gastric Cancer Fund.

I was diagnosed with gastric cancer on October 18, 2007. As a healthy, relative active 37 year old with no real symptoms, my diagnosis came out of nowhere. Compounding the fear and anxiety was the fact that I had never even heard of gastric cancer. It’s a relatively obscure disease in the US, with only 22,000 Americans diagnosed annually and half of those people will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. When I researched the disease, treatment plans, cure rates and latest updates in research, I only found limited resources and outdated information that didn’t share a great deal of hope for living a long and successful life. As the father of two children with a third a month away from birth, I needed more and better information.

Fortunately, I was able to find a fantastic medical team at the Stanford Cancer Center and after a total gastrectomy (complete removal of the stomach), aggressive chemotherapy and radiation; I am currently almost two years cancer free. Even before I finished my treatments, I knew that I wanted to start an organization dedicated to fighting gastric cancer. I’d been involved in non-profits since college, and my MBA is in non-profit/public management, but I had no experience with cancer or health related organizations. So, I asked around to find organizations that were good models for us to replicate. I ended up talking to a lot of people doing great work in the fight against cancer and learned a ton about how to shape our organization.

The first thing I heard — and I heard it often — was that I should avoid securing my own 501c3 non-profit status. Rather, I should spend all my time, energy and money dedicated to fulfilling our mission and raising money to achieve our organization goals. During this process, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Nick Valvano. Through our many conversations, not only did I learn a great deal from Nick about how to build a cancer-focus non-profit, deal with research institutions and keeping perspective on the bigger picture, but Nick also offered to support our organization as a charitable partner.

Because of The V Foundation, the Gastric Cancer Fund has become the first organization dedicated to helping people fight gastric cancer. Through education, research, support and advocacy, the organization is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by gastric cancer and working with leading researchers to find a cure to this disease. The Gastric Cancer Fund’s first initiative is working with the Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Center and Stanford Genome Technology Center to build the country’s first comprehensive gastric cancer registry.

Our organization works with The V Foundation to raise money for gastric cancer and we leverage their infrastructure to assist in our scientific evaluation process. We also work closely with the exceptional staff at the V Foundation with grant management and oversight, financial administration and marketing support. It is because of Nick and his team that we’ve been able to get our organization off the ground and start connecting the gastric cancer community and building our registry in only six short months. We are extremely grateful for the support and guidance we get from the V Foundation and look forward to a long and successful relationship fighting cancer!

 

To learn more about The Gastric Cancer Fund please visit http://www.gastriccancer.org/.