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V Foundation for Cancer Research Celebrates Nearly 17 Million Cancer Survivors

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top rated cancer research charity, is pleased to observe National Cancer Survivors Month and celebrate the nearly 17 million survivors living in the United States. Research continues to provide earlier diagnoses and better treatment options, allowing more people to survive the disease and live in remission.

The number of cancer survivors is expected to grow to 20 million by 2026. The V Foundation, through the Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership Fund, awards research grants focused on improving the lives of survivors. Cancer survivors’ long-term effects can include second cancers, organ dysfunction, neuropathy, reduced growth and development, decreased fertility, impaired cognitive function, autoimmune or inflammatory response and premature death.

“I am blessed to be one of the 17 million cancer survivors, or as I prefer to say, ‘thrivers’ in the United States,” said Robin Roberts, a longtime friend and board member of the V Foundation. “As we move beyond our cancer treatments, we are facing new health challenges. Focusing on healthier futures for cancer thrivers is vital. I look forward to the progress that will give us our best opportunity for a brighter tomorrow.”

In 2018, through the Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership fund, the V Foundation awarded nine translational grants totaling $5.4 million to support “bench to bedside” research, which spans three areas related to cancer survivorship:

  • Long-term effects of childhood cancer.  This research focuses on understanding chronic health issues in hopes of devising new ways to prevent, detect and treat them.

  • Immunotherapy and survivorship.  Research in this area focuses on ways to predict who is likely to benefit most from immunotherapy to fight cancer and determine how to minimize the long-term side effects in survivors.

  • Data to discovery. An in-depth exploration of research databases that contain millions of data points related to genes, cancer screening, clinical trials and life after cancer to find new discoveries to improve survivors’ quality of life.

“I am living proof that the advances made in cancer research have not only drastically increased the number of lives saved, but have also helped those battling this disease battle with grace,” said cancer thriver Marla Milone, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2017. “The advancements in immunotherapy allowed me to live an active life while going through treatment. Now in remission, I am grateful for the continued research to minimize long-term side effects in survivors so we can continue to live life to the fullest.”

Examples of current research funded by the Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership Fund include:

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Kevin Krull, Ph.D., through a $600,000 grant, is researching survivors of childhood leukemia who developed poor cognitive skills (e.g., attention, speed of thinking, reasoning) post-chemotherapy. The decrease in cognitive skills causes problems with school, work and peer interactions. Krull’s research will explore which survivors are at high risk and identify targets to prevent brain injury in future clinical trials. 

At The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, Ewelina Bolcun-Filas, Ph.D., was awarded a $200,000 grant to identify ways to preserve the eggs and ovaries of young girls during cancer therapy. Treatment of pediatric cancer is making great strides as cure rates have improved dramatically over the last 40 years; however, chemotherapy damages ovaries and lifetime egg supplies in up to 20 percent of young girls. Infertility is often an unfortunate consequence experienced among adults treated for cancer during childhood.

In addition to funding critical cancer research for survivors, the V Foundation’s new Thrivership program highlights cancer journeys, focusing on the impact funding cancer research has on real people. A “V thriver” is not only a survivor but an advocate for cancer research who inspires and empowers others on their cancer journey. If you know somebody to recognize as a thriver, encourage them to share their story at v.org/tell-us-story. The V Foundation has proudly awarded more than $225 million for cutting-edge cancer research. The V Foundation holds a 4-star (highest) rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest evaluator of charities, and is among the top 3% of all charities evaluated. The V Foundation is a GuideStar Platinum charity.