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Please Stand Up

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Somewhere in the world right now, a 60 year old woman is looking at herself in the mirror. Her body has mostly healed from the rigors of chemotherapy-- she gained some weight, her hair has grown back in and for the most part, she feels pretty good. But something is lurking in the distance. Her CA125 numbers have risen, and she wonders if the mirror will again reflect the frail skeleton, hollow eyes, and bald head that frightened her four years prior. Despite the fear, she soldiers on to her next oncologist appointment.

A couple hundred miles up the road, a man wakes up, as his arm slides across a bed that suddenly seems to have too much room. The prominent photograph on the dresser shows a high school sweetheart who became a wife of 26 years. Their last two years were spent in and out of hospitals, until her heart suddenly stopped beating a month ago. Waking up for him is harder these days, because he is burdened by the guilt of moments lost and never taking her to Paris.

Three-thousand miles away inside a renowned children's hospital, two parents put on a brave face as they kneel by the bedside of their seven year old son. The boy seeks solace in an Iron Man action figure which inspires him to "hero up" for a life beyond leukemia.

Millions of these heart-wrenching scenarios play out across our planet every day. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, partners and friends, light candles and pray at churches, temples and mosques hoping they will be spared from the ultimate pain cancer brings. This is an epidemic that affects one out of every three women and one out of every two men. 1,500 lives will be lost to cancer today.

Yet, as a whole, we as a society have become too complacent in the fight against this disease. Understandably, there is great frustration from the public as the war on cancer is moving into middle age. Small breakthroughs and milestones of science often fall on deaf ears to a public and media which demand instant and definitive results.

There are many days we share that frustration too, as more of our friends, family and loved ones continue to be touched by the disease. From his confident on-screen persona, one never imagined Michael Douglas being diagnosed with throat cancer. The same is true for Kareem Abdul Jabbar, battling blood cancer. Yet both of these valiant men are in the fight. The truth is cancer doesn't care who you are, where you come from, how much money you have, and how famous you are. You can't run from it. But you can fight it. And, we are confident, one day, we as a people will conquer it. Twelve million cancer survivors are living proof we can change the odds against this disease.

In the two years since the first Stand Up To Cancer event, we both have personally met with dozens and dozens of the world's top cancer doctors and scientists. While the public at large may be skeptical about the possibility of a cancer cure, the opinions of doctors and scientists on the front lines of research are far more optimistic. Consider the following simple statement in relation to the current state of cancer research:

"We now have all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. And we're beginning to understand how these pieces fit together."

That quote is from Lewis Cantley, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is also one of the leaders of our Dream Teams of scientists, the team that is targeting a molecular pathway common in women's cancers.

The sentiment that progress is being made is near unanimous amongst the scientific community. These are men and women who are skeptical by nature; they live and breathe trial and error. Yet when it comes to cancer, they are cautiously optimistic.

This evening at 8PM EST and PST, we're asking the world to stand with us for one hour. We want you to put aside your frustrations and your cynicism about this disease. We want you to become invigorated and reinvested in the fight against cancer -- with good reason. The last time you stood with us, we raised more than $100 million for innovative cancer research. The majority of the money was committed to five multi-disciplinary "Dream Teams" of researchers from more than 50 institutions, as well as to 13 young innovative scientists who are undertaking high-risk, potentially high-reward projects to end cancer's reign as a leading cause of death.

Collectively, the SU2C Dream Team research projects have the potential to impact the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of cancers in adults and children including pancreatic, breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine, brain, lung, prostate, rectal and colon, and leukemia and lymphoma. This means we are working on potential treatments for approximately two-thirds of all U.S. cancer deaths.

As many traditional sources of cancer research funding are drying up, the need for this kind of effort is even greater. We need to engage as many of the world's top scientists and doctors as possible in smart, targeted and collaborative research projects. It's the best chance we have for victory.

Tonight, millions of you will gather in your living rooms or around a computer screen to watch our second landmark broadcast across all four networks, many cable stations and online destinations. Not only will you see familiar faces, moving performances, and tributes that will make you reach for a Kleenex, you will meet our scientists. You will learn a lot about the process of research and the brave men and women working to accelerate a cure, and get new treatments to patients faster.

As in 2008, 100 percent of public donations go directly to innovative cancer research, and fund the kinds of dream teams featured on the broadcast. We hope you will join our cause and donate. Cancer is such massive a problem, it will take all of us. You have our deepest pledge; whatever amount of money you donate, it will not be wasted. It will both better, and save lives.

You might not be old enough to remember that the March of Dimes was launched during the Great Depression, when our resiliency was tested most. Our hope is that in these troubling economic times, we find the resources, the wherewithal and determination to end cancer, like the generation before us did to bring about the end of polio. Make no mistake, we can do this. We have no choice. We need to, as the adage goes, pray for a cure, and then work like hell to make it happen.

Think about those scenarios at the beginning of this blog. What if that was your child, your wife, your mother? What if that woman looking in the mirror was you? What would you do to end cancer? If you are suffering from cancer, you already know the answer: everything you can.

Please stand with us.

For more info, please visit: su2c.org