Our 2nd Medical Research Grant!

On September 21, 2018, we officially announced the winner of our 2018 medical research grant of $5,000. Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, located in Burlington, MA, was awarded the grant to fund a randomized controlled trial on the benefits of receiving acupuncture in the hospital after a mastectomy or a mastectomy with breast reconstructive surgery compared to usual care, which is to wait until after the two week post-surgical follow up.

Jonathan B. Ammen, M.Ed., M.Ac., Lic.Ac., an acupuncturist at Lahey Hospital has been working on the acupuncture trial. “Pain following mastectomy and, in particular, mastectomy with reconstructive surgery is a significant cause of suffering to patients,” said Ammen. “Acupuncture has a history of usefulness in the treatment of chronic and acute pain and has demonstrated efficacy in studies of postsurgical pain. The BUCK grant will cover the treatment and research supplies for the patients participating in this trial.”   

Palliative Care. A Student's Reflection

Over the summer, BUCK funded a $1,000 stipend for a medical student to participate in a rotational program in the integrative medicine unit at MD Anderson. The student was Margaret (“Maggie”) O’Brien, who is enrolled in the Medical Humanities Scholarly program at the University of Texas. This program is focused on bringing the patient doctor relationship back to medicine. Maggie beautifully summarized her experience during her rotation.

By Margaret (“Maggie”) O’Brien.

“No place better bookends the opening and closing chapters of life than a hospital. It’s what first drew me to medicine, volunteering as a cuddler in the NICU. During my high school years, I spent Saturday mornings holding babies connected to tubes and machines, watching them grow and go out into the world. It seemed only natural that my first summer of medical training should be spent learning about the other half. Having lost most of my grandparents to cancer at a young age, my understanding of the end of life was minimal: an afternoon watching hospice nurses cover the dying elderly with handmade crochet blankets. An hour in the ER where I silently watched from the corner as a veteran’s heart slowly failed. My tank in anatomy lab, where my team and I honored our cadaver through dissection and diligent study.

I’ve always known that as a physician, it would be my duty to be with patients in their most difficult times. It is hard to imagine a setting more difficult than suffering from terminal cancer. I chose to rotate with palliative care in an attempt to become competent around and find comfortability with the pain of such suffering. What I didn’t expect was for palliative care to encompass the full spectrum of supportive care of MD Anderson patients. I had no idea I would be immersed in a truly interdisciplinary team, devoted to not only the care of their patients but also to the patients’ families and even for each other. As one supportive care physician explained to his patients, the oncologists are here to treat the cancer, palliative care is to take care of the patient. As I reflect upon what I learned during my rotation, it is the philosophy of patient-centered medicine that I saw practiced every day that sticks with me most.

My time at MD Anderson began in the Palliative Care Unit, the inpatient unit which houses patients in need of complicated symptom management. The palliative care attendings and fellows rounded gradually with only paper, pen, and stethoscope, never letting the accoutrements of modern day practice interfere with the greater role of connecting with the patient and patient’s family. They listened with patience and generosity, waiting in the pauses of silence in conversations to allow family members the space to speak up. They watched the patients breathe and gurgle and moan with concern and compassion. As the days slid by in a haze of lavender aromatherapy, the physicians answered the same questions with clarity and repetition. There is an understanding that this a world that most know nothing about and few enter gladly. Each family is reassured that if needed, the doctors will be right outside the door, alongside the nurses, counselors, social workers, case manager, and chaplain. Nowhere are the social dynamics of a family and the psychosocial elements of patientcare more critical than in palliative medicine, making the successful cooperativity of an interdisciplinary team a necessity. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the same is true at the end of life.

I find a new context for the opioid epidemic in its use for cancer patients in the Supportive Care Clinic. Patients who need opioids the most are often reluctant to take them for fear of becoming addicted. Dr. Hui uses a metaphor to educate his patients: think of opioids like a knife. Used in the wrong context, a knife is a dangerous weapon. Yet, it would be extremely difficult to cook without a knife to cut and chop.

Most cancer patients approach taking pain medications with apprehension, but there were also those whose behavior and history trigger flags for chemical coping.  One patient showed up intoxicated, refused a urine test, and demanded a month’s worth of oxycontin. She stormed out when her request was denied. Another patient was a man who spent his life battling drug addiction, hesitant to take the pills he felt defined so much of his life, only to find them a necessary blessing at the end. There is a sharp point to Dr. Hui’s metaphorical knife, one I felt acutely the day a patient told us that his teenage daughter overdosed on his prescribed morphine just days earlier. The encounter is one so fraught and distressed that the very air in the clinic seemed to tingle with tension. Over and over again, the patient moaned that no parent should have to bury their child. His words clotted in my ears like wax.

It is this very reason that pediatric palliative care is a whole different animal, as I discovered during my time on the consult service. During my few days in the children’s wing, we suited up in gowns and gloves and masks to meet with a teenage boy who never looked up from his videogame. I could not imagine why he wouldn’t talk about his pain, his symptoms, so that they could be fixed. The attending explained that his video games were his escape, and we were the ultimate intrusion to the fantasy. The next day, I noticed that the video game avatar was a character so encased in armor that even his face was covered and his arms were connected to the swords he carried. A far cry from the shirtless boy on the bed, connected to a web of IVs through his arms and stomach.

There are also patients and families that recognize the extraordinary in their treatment team, as I did. They would wonder aloud how anyone could possibly come to work every day, knowing what challenges and pain they would face. I wondered this too at the start of my rotation, but I have my answer now. As a doctor, there is almost nothing more rewarding than taking someone’s pain and problems and helping them feel better. It is why most people go to medical school in the first place, to desire to relieve suffering. This simple idea is the heart and soul of palliative medicine, the reason it is needed as a field so profoundly, and the motivation to choose it as a career.

Although I still cannot say definitively what my future plans will be, I know I will strive to incorporate these ideals in my future practice. My six weeks rotating in palliative care taught me so much about the juxtaposition of life and love among suffering and death. My time there as a rotating medical student was more eye opening than I could have imagined. Every day when I walked in, I felt reminded me what was really important. Pain may be the great equalizer, but there are things it cannot take away. The love of families who gather around their own and fill the room with their love. The faith in God that lifts the spirits of those whose bodies have been dragged down. The memories that one has the chance to make up until the final breath. I am reminded that each day good or bad is a blessing, that the time I am given is an immeasurable opportunity, that the life I am living is my only true possession, that my faith is a renewable source of strength, and that love is the greatest joy. The gift of perspective is a powerful strength, one I hope I will take with me on the journey of my medical career and the rest of my life.”

Margaret O'Brien check.jpg

BREAKING NEWS: Our First Medical Research Grant Awarded!

On Wednesday, October 4 2017, the BUCK Cancer Foundation (BUCK) announced that it has awarded their inaugural medical research grant of $5,000 to Penn Medicine for a feasibility study followed by a randomized trial on the effects of yoga on fatigue, pain, and quality of life in cancer patients with solid tumors undergoing active radiation therapy. Tali (Avital) Mazar Ben-Josef D.M.D, R.Y.T, a researcher in Radiation Oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who has been working on the yoga trial, elaborates, “Most studies on yoga have been done on breast cancer patients. Penn was the first to do a study on prostate cancer patients and would love to extend the trial to all patients with solid tumors. The grant from BUCK will be used for the first leg of the feasibility trial and will cover the first 10 patients.” 

Promising new experimental approach for replacing bone marrow stem cells

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue within our bones, predominantly located within our breast, hip and thigh bones. This tissue contains a special type of cell: blood stem or elemental cell. Normally, stem cells within our bone marrow give rise to all blood cell types, including white blood cells (fight infection, produce antibodies), red blood cells (carry oxygen) and platelets (coagulate).

Stem cell transplant may be the treatment of choice for patients with blood malignancies such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma1. In these malignancies, specific types of white blood cells are abnormal and replicate rapidly. Consequently, the normal primary function of white blood cells in fighting infection or disease is impaired. Moreover, accumulation of abnormal blood cells may affect the normal production of other blood cell types.

Replacing stem cells within the bone marrow, with stem cells from compatible donors, may cure blood malignancies or at least provide long remission (disease free-state). Nevertheless, conventional stem cell transplant requires chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to: (1) eliminate abnormal cells, (2) reduce rejection by the immune system of the recipient, and (3) to free space within the bone marrow for the new transplanted stem cells to flourish1. A significant level of toxicity is associated with this initial treatment or conditioning. For example, radiotherapy as a conditioning treatment prior to stem cell transplantation is associated with increased risk of developing cataracts, diabetes and hypertension2,3. Moreover, another long-term side effect of conditioning treatment is the development of secondary tumors2,3.

Conditioning treatments have evolved over the decades since their inception in the 1950s1. In the 1980s, it was discovered that patients benefit from the immunity conferred by the graft or implant. Observations at the clinic and from clinical trials confirmed that the transplanted T-cells help in the process of eliminating residual malignant blood cells in the recipient1. The immune benefits of the graft have been exploited over the ensuing decades, and have allowed the use of lower intensity chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for conditioning.

Therefore, immunotherapy strategies have made possible the use of less toxic conditioning treatments prior to stem cell transplantation. A recent study in mice suggests that immune-based treatments could be further exploited, allowing conditioning without the need for chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy (doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aae0501)4.

A group at Stanford University School of Medicine recently demonstrated, in an experimental animal model, that immunotherapy strategies might be used to eliminate bone marrow stem and stem-derived cells (https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/08/researchers-devise-safer-method-for-bone-marrow-transplants.html). Investigators showed that the host immune system could be activated to eliminate stem cells by using biological agents, specifically antibodies, targeting receptors or proteins within the membrane of bone marrow stem cells.

To implement this strategy, investigators targeted two critical membrane proteins on stem cells: c-kit and CD47. c-kit is essential for bone marrow stem cells to multiply and survive, while CD47 protects stem cells from elimination by the immune system4. Thus, by simultaneously blocking these proteins with specific antibodies, investigators could eliminate bone marrow stem cells in recipient animals, providing favorable conditions for transplant of new stem cells.

Patients requiring stem cell transplant for blood malignancies often depend on donor stem cells obtained from patients with similar genetic markers, but not identical to donors. Investigators mimicked the human clinical scenario by using immunologically normal host animals, and stem cell transplants grafted from genetically similar, but not identical donors. Under these conditions, successful stem cell engraftment was achieved by combined treatment with c-kit, CD47 and T-cell depleting antibodies.

Early-phase clinical trials are already in progress to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of CD47 blocking antibodies (https://med.stanford.edu/stemcell/CD47.html) and c-kit (https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2016/safer-stem-cell-transplant). If these strategies are successful in humans, it may be possible to extend the use of bone marrow transplantation to other non-malignant diseases, such as metabolic disorders or specific types of anemia1. Currently the toxicity associated with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy as conditioning treatment represents a considerable barrier to the treatment of non-malignant diseases.


1. Henig I. & Zuckerman T. (2014) ‘Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation—50 Years of Evolution and Future Perspectives’. Rambam Maimonides Med J. 5 (4):e0028. doi:10.5041/RMMJ.10162.

2. Baker K. S. et al., (2007) ‘Diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular events in survivors of hematopoietic cell transplantation: a report from the bone marrow transplantation survivor study’. Blood 109:1765-1772, doi:10.1182/blood-2006-05-022335.

3. Mohty B & Mohty M. (2011) ‘Long-term complications and side effects after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: an update’. Blood Cancer Journal 1, e16; doi:10.1038/bcj.2011.1

4. Chhabra A. et al., (2016) ‘Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in immunocompetent hosts without radiation or chemotherapy’. Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 351ra105.

Link to article: Unique microbiome in breast tissue

A group of researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently discovered that breast tissue contains a distinct microbiome (DOI: 10.1038/srep30751). For this study, breast tissue was collected from patients with benign or malignant breast conditions. By analyzing the microbial genetic material in these tissue samples, investigators found that the microbiome within breast tissue differs from the microbiome present in other parts of our body. More importantly, the microorganisms found in healthy breast tissue are different from those found in cancerous breast tissue. The role of specific microorganisms in carcinogenesis is well established particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. These new findings present the opportunity to uncover the role that the unique breast microbiome may play in health and disease.


Understanding The Molecular Diversity of Esophageal Cancer

...is key for effective targeted therapies.

by Rosa Moreno-Hanson, PhD

The incidence of esophageal cancer in the USA is markedly demarcated by gender and race. The incidence is greater in men, and the predominance of specific esophageal cancer subtypes differs among Caucasians and African Americans. Two main subtypes of esophageal cancer are recognized based on tissue analysis: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC, more common in African Americans), and esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC, more common in Caucasians). The upper and mid-esophagus are predominantly affected by ESCC1. Consumption of alcohol and use of tobacco are considered major risk factors for developing ESCC. Combined use of alcohol and tobacco is known to further augment the risk for developing ESCC. This is due to the compounding effect of alcohol as an irritant of the esophageal tissue and tobacco as the source of carcinogens2. Currently, EAC represents the predominant subtype in the USA; 80% of all cases of esophageal cancer diagnosed fall within this subtype2. EAC primarily affects the lower esophagus and is associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease and obesity 1, 2, 3.

Esophageal cancer is a very aggressive disease. Spreading of the tumor cells to the liver, lung, and bones is common before diagnosis2. Therefore, esophageal tumor staging is critical for selecting a therapeutic approach. For staging, physicians rely on various imaging approaches such as: computed tomography or CT scan, endoscopic ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (also know as PET scan)4. These approaches allow physicians to determine the extent of tumor invasion. Depending on the stage, patients may be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Additionally, surgery for the purpose of tumor removal may also be performed2.

Patient survival under current treatments remains poor, with a 5-year survival rate of about 15-20%1. Investigators believe that targeted approaches for the treatment of esophageal cancer may improve patient outcomes. Nevertheless, knowledge of the specific genes and proteins affected in this disease is lacking. Therefore, two recent independent studies undertook the difficult task of unraveling the genetic abnormalities that underscore esophageal cancer1, 5.

The first study was conducted by a group of researchers as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network, which stemmed from a collaborative initiative between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)1. The main goal of this initiative is to provide insight on the genomic changes that contribute to various types of cancer. In this study a total of 164 esophageal tumor samples from patients around the world were used to analyze the genetic changes underscoring esophageal cancer. Advanced genetic sequencing techniques allowed investigators to demonstrate that the two subtypes of esophageal cancer, ESCC and EAC, may be distinguished by the expression levels of specific proteins. These differences in protein expression occur as the result of mutations in particular genes. The particular genes mutated, and the type of genetic mutations found in tumors from patients diagnosed with ESCC or EAC were very different. In fact, based on the genetic signatures, ESCC more closely resembles head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, while EAC tumors are similar molecularly to gastric adenocarcinomas. These findings led investigators to conclude that different molecular changes drive the development of these two main subtypes of esophageal cancer.

Additionally, investigators found that tumors from patients diagnosed with ESCC could further be classified into three main sub-groups: ESCC-1, -2 and -3, based on the particular mutations and molecular processes affected. Interestingly, tumors sub-classified as ESCC1 were predominantly found in patients from Asia, while tumors classified as ESCC3 were exclusively found in American and Canadian patients. These findings may suggest that different risk factors drive the development of esophageal cancer around the world.

In the second study, investigators used whole-genome sequencing approaches to analyze 129 samples from patients with EAC, as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium project5. Overall, investigators found that the genetic changes underscoring EAC are highly variable, and predominantly involve large-scale mutations or changes that affect large portions of the genome. However, extensive analysis of the identified mutations allowed investigators to recognize that EAC cases could be classified within three major sub-groups. Investigators classified EAC cases based on genome instability as: C>A/T dominant (with fewer large-scale genetic mutations), DNA damage repair (DDR) impaired (deficient in mechanisms to repair mutations), and Mutagenic (with the highest incidence of large-scale genetic mutations). Investigators believe that understanding these "mutational signatures" will facilitate the design of more effective targeted therapies5.

Thus, these studies shed light onto the complexities of esophageal cancer classification. The two previously recognized subtypes of esophageal cancer, ESSC and EAC, may be more clearly distinguished by the tumor’s molecular characteristics. Mutational signatures may be very different between patients and thus present a challenge for clinical trials. Investigators believe that ESCC and EAC require different therapeutic approaches that take into account the specific molecular changes present in these tumors.

BUCK's Birthday Bash Was A Smash!!

On Sunday, March 5, the BUCK Cancer Foundation held its annual Birthday Bash at Sprout Music Collective in West Chester, PA, which raised over $3,000!!  The Walton Marquette Project and The New Locals rocked the house and we auctioned off several fabulous items that were generously donated by the following local merchants and individuals:

Northbrook Canoe Company, Amani's BYOB in Downingtown, Filet of Soul in Downingtown, Philadelphia Eagles, Little Nest Portraits in Collegeville, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Z. Wei Restaurant in Exton, Duling-Kurtz House Restaurant & Country Inn in Exton, Philadelphia Flyers, Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, Allstate Insurance: Candy Vigorita, Debra Thierry, Jon Schwartz, Elena Lee and Don Yao!!

Our President Lori Nonnemaker provided a year-end update on the Foundation to the crowd highlighting that in 2016,

1.  BUCK awarded its first innovative educational grant to a graduate student in Acupuncture at the Won Institute in Berwyn, PA. We expect to award two more educational grants in 2017 to students pursuing a degree in integrative medicine or a complementary cancer treatment.

2.  BUCK raised enough funds to all the Board to approve our first medical research grant in the amount of $3,500. We are currently working with the local research hospitals in the Greater Philadelphia area to identify the right research study and will have more on this coming out shortly.

3.  BUCK handed out over 100 warm socks to cancer patients in the Penn Medicine network in both center city Philadelphia and Chester County locations. In 2017, we want to provide water bottles to over 200 cancer patients as part of our Warm Hugs from BUCK program since hydration is quite important to everyone especially for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

Opdivo: A Novel Treatment for Cancer

By Awais Zia

A new drug called Opdivo (Nivolumab) has entered the market for treatment of various types of cancer. Opdivo is an antibody and a type of immunotherapy that provides a promising future for cancer treatment. The FDA has now approved Opdivo for skin cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, kidney cancer, and head and neck cancer. 

            Opdivo takes advantage of the body’s immune system to attack and kill cancer cells. When cancer forms in a person’s body, the immune system recognizes it as a threat to the body and attempts to fight it. However, cancer cells have specific receptors on their cell membrane that interact with T cells of the immune system and block them from fighting cancer cells. This prevents the immune system from getting rid of cancer. Scientists have recognized this phenomenon and have attempted to take advantage of the immune system’s capability in fighting cancer. Consequently, a new drug Opdivo has been produced that takes advantage of this principle. Once Opdivo enters the body, it binds to receptors present on T cells that are used by cancer cells when blocking the immune system from fighting cancer. By binding to these T cell receptors, Opdivo blocks cancer cells from interacting with T cells. In other words, Opdivo blocks the essential step used by cancer cells to halt the body’s immune system. This allows T cells to recognize other receptors on cancer cells and initiate the killing process.

            Over the years, several clinical trials with Opdivo have been conducted on patients with various types of cancer. Opdivo has shown to be an effective drug in reducing cancer from the body, either by itself or when given in combination with another anti-cancer drug. In a study on advanced melanoma, Opdivo given in combination with a conventional anti-cancer drug reduced cancer by 80% or more.  In another melanoma study, the risk of death was decreased by 58% compared to a conventional anti-cancer drug among patients who were previously untreated with advanced melanoma. In a study on advanced squamous non-small-cell lung cancer, Opdivo reduced the risk of death by 41%, increased the median survival rate by 3.2 months, and doubled the 1-year survival rate.  Opdivo has also shown promise for patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, in which the drug showed an overall response rate of 87% and increased survival by 86% at 24 weeks without progression of the disease. For advanced renal cell carcinoma, Opdivo increased the overall survival by 5.4 months compared to a conventional anti-cancer drug. For squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, Opdivo increased the median overall survival by 7.5 months compared to conventional chemotherapy. Regarding side effects, Opdivo has either been comparable or shown reduced side effects than other anti-cancer drugs currently in the market. However, Opdivo has the potential to cause some serious side effects as well.

            These studies show that Opdivo possess the power to enable the immune system to fight cancer cells and consequently increase patients’ overall survival rates. They also show Opdivo’s ability to fight off many different types of cancer. It is possible that this drug would get approved for more cancer types in the future as more investigations are conducted. Currently, patients with melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck can benefit from this drug.

Our Unique Microbiome and Cancer

by Rosa Morena, PhD

What is the Microbiome?

Micro-organisms and their specific genetic material or genome, constitute the microbiome. Our microbiome is therefore defined by the genome of viruses, bacteria and fungi that may reside within our body at any given time1. Because the specific combination of micro-organisms is unique to each of us, our microbiome is equally unique.

It may be unacceptable for some, but micro-organisms are constant and normal residents of our skin, nose, mouth, digestive and reproductive systems. In fact, the great majority of micro-organisms that constitute our unique microbiome exist within our intestinal tract (2, 3). What benefits do they provide? For example, within the intestinal tract, micro-organisms, primarily bacteria, help in the processing of complex carbohydrates, providing us with nutrients and vitamins2. By colonizing the inner-surface of our intestines, micro-organisms protect us by effectively creating a physical barrier against harmful bugs. Additionally, gut-micro-organisms play essential roles in the development and strengthening of our immune system (2). Therefore, scientists believe that our unique normal gut-microbiota is critical for human health.

The Bad and the Good of our Microbiome in Cancer

By now you may be wondering, how bacteria in our gut are involved in cancer?  Gut-microbiota is not a static entity. It’s influenced by various factors including:  diet, age, drugs (e.g., antibiotics), environmental factors and infectious pathogens, among many others. When the gut-microbiota is negatively altered by any of these factors, symbiosis is affected; scientists refer to this altered-state as dysbiosis (2, 3). Increasing evidence supports that cancer and dysbiosis are promoted by similar factors2. Perhaps the best example is the development of colorectal cancer, where infections and antibiotic use may be implicated in the development of dysbiosis and subsequent carcinogenesis (2, 3, 4).

However, dysbiosis in the gut may have far reaching carcinogenic potential. Recent findings suggest that dysbiosis in gut-microbiota may exert long distance effects on the liver, inducing inflammation and contributing to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (3, 5).

But not all is bad when talking about the microbiome and cancer. Interestingly, the gut-microbiota may exert important influences on the activity and toxicity of chemotherapeutic agents. Studies have shown that manipulating the activity of specific gut-bacterial enzymes may reduce the toxicity and improve the effectiveness of some chemotherapies (2, 6). For example, the drug Camptothecin (CT-11 or irinotecan), used in the treatment of colon cancer, is known to induce severe diarrhea, which limits its effectiveness. This unwanted side effect has been linked to the way Camptothecin is metabolized by intestinal microbiota (2, 6). Scientists have devised a strategy to specifically inhibit the bacterial enzyme responsible for this side effect, which should allow the use of greater doses of the drug (6).

Manipulating the Microbiome, is it possible?

Researchers are just beginning to recognize and understand the complex interactions that occur within our own bodies, with our natural and unique microbiota. Intestinal bacteria with their unique set of enzymes, able to metabolize different drugs, present the opportunity for manipulation to modulate toxicity and efficacy. Moreover, our microbiota may also be manipulated to improve effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy (2).

It is clear that dysbiosis or an unbalanced microbiota plays a role in carcinogenesis. Nevertheless, scientists also agree that the connection between dysbiosis and specific cancers in the human merits further study. Researchers believe that manipulating the microbiome may hold promise for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Some of the strategies that are envisioned include the use of antibiotics, probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics and microbiota transplantation (2, 3).

Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have detrimental effects on the gut-microbiota, leading to dysbiosis (2, 7-9). Currently, strategies aimed at restoring a balanced gut-microbiota via microbiota transplantation are being considered for patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation (https://www.mskcc.org/blog/microbiome-studies-may-benefit-patients).

The uniqueness of our microbiome is likely to present a great challenge for the successful implementation of any of these strategies. Considering the great diversity of micro-organisms, and thus the great number of genes, a better understanding of the specific biological activities of these organisms is required. The National Institutes of Health sponsored a great initiative, aimed at understanding our microbiome’s intricacies. Through the Human Microbiome Project, an international collaborative effort, scientists have mapped the human microbiome in health and disease (https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-human-microbiome-project-defines-normal-bacterial-makeup-body). These studies are sure to propel great scientific applications that aim to harness the power of our microbiome for a healthier life.


  1. Cénit MC, Matzaraki V, Tigchelaar EF & Zhernakova A (2014) ‘Rapidly expanding knowledge on the role of the gut microbiome in health and disease’. Biochim Biophys Acta.1842(10),1981-1992. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2014.05.023.

  2. Zitvogel L, Galluzzi L, Viaud S, Vétizou M, Daillère R, Merad M & Kroemer G (2015) ‘Cancer and the gut microbiota: An unexpected link’. Science Translational Medicine 7(271), 1-4. DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3010473

  3. Schwabe RF & Jobin C (2013) ‘The microbiome and cancer’. Nat. Rev. Cancer 13, 800- 812.

  4. Wang JL, Chang CH, Lin JW, Wu LC, Chuang MS & Lai MS (2014) ‘Infection, antibiotic therapy and risk of colorectal cancer: A nationwide nested case–control study in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus’. Int. J. Cancer 135,956-967.

  5. Roderburg C & Luedde T (2014) ‘The role of the gut microbiome in the development and progression of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma’. J. Gut Microbes 5(4),441-445.

  6. Wallace, BD, Wang H, Lane KT, Scott JE, Orans J, Koo JS, Venkatesh M, Jobin C, Yeh LA, Mani S & Redinbo MR (2010) ‘Alleviating Cancer Drug Toxicity by Inhibiting a Bacterial Enzyme’. Science 330(6005),831-835.

  7. Zwielehner J, Lassl C, Hippe B, Pointner A, Switzeny OJ, Remely M, Kitzweger E, Ruckser R & Haslberger AG (2011) ‘Changes in Human Fecal Microbiota Due to Chemotherapy Analyzed by TaqMan-PCR, 454 Sequencing and PCR-DGGE Fingerprinting’. PLOS One 6(12): e28654. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028654.

  8. Touchefeu Y, Montassier E, Nieman K, Gastinne T, Potel G, des Varanne SB, Le Vacon F & de La Cochetiere MF (2014)  ‘Systematic review: the role of the gut microbiota in chemotherapy- or radiation-induced gastrointestinal mucositis – current evidence and potential clinical applications’.  Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 40,409-421.

  9. Nam YD, Kim HJ, Seo JG, Kang SW & Bae JW (2013) ‘Impact of Pelvic Radiotherapy on Gut Microbiota of Gynecological Cancer Patients Revealed by Massive Pyrosequencing’. PLOS One 8(12): e82659.


What Is Mesothelioma?

By Cara Tompot (from asbestos.com)

How many times have you seen a commercial about mesothelioma on television?

If you’re like me, that number is probably north of fifty times. Most people have no idea that mesothelioma is an incurable cancer. Compared to cancers of the breast, lung and skin, mesothelioma is relatively rare.

The disease affects an estimated 3,000 people in the United States every year.

Asbestos Cancer

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer directly connected to asbestos exposure. In many cases, a mesothelioma patient has an extensive history working with the lethal compound.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance with deadly effects. Once revered for its versatility and high-heat resistance, the compound was used in an array of products from fireproofing and automotive parts to construction materials and household goods.

At first, employers were unaware of the risks that accompanied the material, but when they found out, many companies hid the dangers of the toxic material from workers.

As a result, many occupations exposed workers to asbestos. In fact, the National Institute of Occupation Health and Safety estimated that over 75 different occupational groups exposed employees to the deadly mineral. The occupations at the highest risk of on-the-job exposure include construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers, power plant workers and shipyard employees.

In addition, asbestos was commonly used in nearly every branch of the military. Now, U.S. veterans are being diagnosed with a variety of asbestos-related diseases. It is estimated that 30 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses are given to veterans.

While no amount of asbestos exposure is safe, the danger arises when the substance is disturbed as microscopic fibers become airborne. When someone breathes in or ingests these fibers, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs or abdomen causing damage and ultimately mesothelioma.

Understanding the Latency Period

Mesothelioma can take decades to develop.

With an extraordinarily long latency period, which is the time between initial asbestos exposure and a mesothelioma diagnosis, it can take 20-50 years for someone to be diagnosed with the deadly cancer.

This means that asbestos victims often won't notice any symptoms for decades. Given the long period of time required for the disease to develop, most people diagnosed are over the age of 60.

Types of Mesothelioma

There are four types of mesothelioma: Pleural, peritoneal, pericardial and testicular.

Each type is named after the part of the body where tumors develop. The most common type is pleural mesothelioma, which is found in the lining of the lungs known as the pleura. This type typically results from inhaling the deadly fibers. Pleural mesothelioma makes up approximately 75 percent of cases.

The second most common type of mesothelioma is peritoneal. This type is found in the peritoneum, which is the lining of the abdomen. It makes up an estimated 20 percent of diagnoses.

Mesothelioma Symptoms

While the signs of this difficult cancer can vary by type, many patients report experiencing similar issues. Unfortunately, many of these issues can also be caused by a variety of other conditions and may end up being diagnosed as a less deadly disease.

The most common symptoms include: Shortness of breath, muscle weakness, a dry cough, chest or abdomen pain and difficulty breathing.

These symptoms are often mistaken for a chronic lung disease, such as COPD or pulmonary fibrosis, or another type of cancer. In some cases, patients may assume these are just typical signs of aging. As a result, misdiagnosis is unfortunately common.

When a patient is misdiagnosed, the cancer has more time to grow, which limits a patient’s treatment options and hurts their overall prognosis. Early diagnosis is essential when it comes to mesothelioma, so it is really important for people with any history of asbestos exposure to speak with their doctor immediately if they have any possible symptoms.

While there is no cure for mesothelioma, new medical advancements are making it possible for survivors to live longer than ever.

Acupuncture Student Receives Inaugural $500 Grant from BUCK!

The BUCK Cancer Foundation (BUCK) announced on Thursday, September 15, that it has awarded Jessica Weaver, an honor student at the Won Institute in Glenside, PA their inaugural grant of $500 for the fall 2016 semester. Ms. Weaver was awarded the grant for her graduate studies in acupuncture and interest in how acupuncture can help cancer patients.

The BUCK Cancer Foundation plans to roll out an innovative pay-back grant program for the spring 2017 semester providing pay-back grants (up to $5,000) to health and wellness students pursuing a degree in integrative medicine or complementary cancer treatments. A pay back grant would provide necessary funds to these students with the expectation that once the student has graduated and is fully employed, they would pay back the grant as a percentage of their salary (such as 1%). The grant paybacks would provide additional grants to future health and wellness students.

“The BUCK Cancer Foundation is focused on making integrative oncology standard cancer care in America and we are excited to provide this grant to Jessica”, said Lori Nonnemaker the president of BUCK. “Acupuncture can help reduce pain, anxiety, and nausea which really improves the quality of life for cancer patients.” Doreen Lafferty, Clinic Director at the Won Institute, comments on students treating cancer patients:  “This past year, a student clinic intern treated a patient with cancer two times a week during her chemotherapy treatments. The patient appeared to have less discomfort and side effects than most patients with cancer."


The Won Institute is a small specialized graduate school with regional and programmatic accreditation. It has a master degree program in Acupuncture and a certificate program in Chinese Herbal Medicine. It is the only program of its kind in Pennsylvania. Graduates go onto become licensed in acupuncture or oriental medicine. More information can be found at www.woninstitute.edu.

The BUCK Cancer Foundation seeks to support and fund opportunities and endeavors that help build a bridge between ALL viable forms of cancer research and treatment (natural, holistic AND conventional) and unite them in one goal: to provide greater comfort to cancer patients during treatment while working toward a cure.  The BUCK Cancer Foundation is focused on Bridging & Uniting Cancer Knowledge. For more information, please visit our website at www.buckcancerfoundation.org.

Reiki & A Cancer Survivor

My name is Diane Radliff and I am a 25 year ovarian cancer survivor. My story of how I beat cancer began with a Reiki treatment my favorite aunt gave me as a gift.  Twenty five years ago Reiki wasn’t well known so I experienced Reiki without knowing anything about it. I later learned that Reiki is an ancient healing technique that uses universal energy to accelerate the body’s natural ability to heal itself. 

When I went for the Reiki treatment I wasn’t sure I really wanted to live, I was in a bad marriage, I was weak and sick, and my only child was away at college, I felt totally alone.  What was there to live for? I knew what the chemo was doing to my body, how toxic it was and how it was depleting my energy more and more each day but I also knew I had to have it.

Melinda, the Reiki practitioner asked me to describe what I was feeling.  I said I feel like I’m in a prickly thicket and everything hurts even my skin.  She told me to try and see beyond the thicket. I had never done any meditation or visualization in my life so this was hard for me to do.  But the Reiki had relaxed me so much I was able to let go and allow my mind to wander. That’s when I saw a pair of eyes with long lashes looking back at me and noticed it had horns.  I realized the animal I was seeing was a giraffe.  She asked me what I would like to do with the giraffe and I said I wanted to get on its head.  In my present state of mind I figured if I fell off and died, so what. 

What happened next changed my life forever.  When I envisioned myself on the giraffe’s head I saw the horizon and I knew lying on that Reiki table that I was going to LIVE, not die from the toxic chemo or the cancer and that my body would now produce perfect new cells.  I saw the horizon and a new life.

When Melinda placed her hands on me I felt my body begin to relax, my pain lessened and I began let go of the fear, anxiety and grief I was holding on to. Most people aren’t aware of the grief factor that accompanies cancer.  I had lost all my feminine organs, my femininity, what made me a woman and I needed to grieve that loss in order to heal my body completely.  During that first Reiki treatment my body released a lot and I got off the table feeling like a new person.

Melinda also asked me what I wanted from this healing, I had no idea.  After some thought, I said I wanted to keep my hair on my head during the chemo and have the energy to work during the chemo treatments so I could keep my job.

To my surprise that is actually what happened.  My hair did not fall out, even my chemo-therapist was amazed that I did not lose my hair he asked me what I was doing to keep the hair on my head.  I was able to go back to work three days a week between the chemo treatments because I had energy and felt better after each monthly Reiki treatment.

When I got off the table after the Reiki treatment my attitude toward my life was totally changed and I was hooked on Reiki because it had helped me after just one treatment.  I also knew that I had found my new purpose in life, to learn Reiki so I could help fellow cancer survivors –survive! 

I have been a Reiki practitioner for the past 24 years and I have taught Reiki to over 1500 students. I love teaching Reiki, I love giving Reiki treatments, and I love my life, thanks to Reiki!

Integrative Oncology at Abramson Cancer Center

Cancer doesn’t just affect a part of your body – it affects your life globally. Patients and families struggle physically, emotionally and spiritually when faced with this disease. The goal of the integrative oncology program here at Abramson is to support the whole person, through every stage of treatment. As the integrative oncology patient navigator, my role is to help educate patients and families about complementary supportive resources, and help with access to these services. We’re fortunate to be able to offer a variety of services at our cancer center, which allows us to support patients in whatever way works best for them. Here’s what our program currently looks like:

Acupuncture – Our acupuncturist assists patients with managing side effects from treatment. Using this technique, he addresses symptoms as diverse as nausea, pain, insomnia, anxiety or even dry mouth. Acupuncture can help patients improve their well-being without adding more medications, which is a request many of our patients have.

Nutrition – Our nutritionists are registered dieticians who assist our patients with whole-food nutrition, as well as supporting patients who are facing challenges due to taste changes, lack of appetite or swallowing issues.

Reiki – the Reiki program supports patients in active treatment, who are receiving either chemotherapy or radiation. Reiki volunteers provide free sessions for patients and families. Many patients find the experience helps them relax, which is important during high-stress times such as treatment days.

Yoga – We have 3 yoga classes a week at our center, along with a 4th class at a yoga studio in the community. Our instructors are able to tailor the classes to meet patients wherever they are at on a given day. Feeling fatigued? Do the class from a chair – everyone can still benefit from the meditative movement and breath work (along with the stretching!)

Physical Therapy – Cancer fatigue is one of the most common side effects patients face, but it can be combated with exercise. Patients can benefit from physical therapy for pain and fatigue. Something I’d like to see is patients being referred to physical therapy earlier in treatment. Waiting until patients have become very deconditioned makes it harder to get them back to a higher level of functioning, but preventing it is easier.

Counseling – We have wonderful social workers, a full time counselor, psychiatric services and support groups to help patients and families find forums for expression and learn coping strategies. Whether it’s individual, family, or getting patients connected to their peers, these programs help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety patients and families are dealing with.

Mindfulness – The Penn Program for Mindfulness offers an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course several times throughout the year. I also regularly speak with patients about mindfulness practicing they can start incorporating into their day to day to help with distressing emotions. Mindfulness techniques can really assist patients with “surfing the waves” of strong emotion during treatment.

Pet Therapy – Furry friends come to visit in our waiting rooms, bringing a smile to people’s faces and taking their minds off the disease for a few minutes. Patients love sharing about their own pets, and pet therapy volunteers are often treated to cell phone pics and stories of pets back at home.

I’m fortunate to see firsthand how these services support our patients, but we still need more research into these areas. That’s why I’m thrilled to see groups like the BUCK Foundation make this a priority. Personalized medicine doesn’t just have to apply to pharmaceuticals – using research we can also target holistic therapies to the patients they will serve best, such as identifying which patients are most like to respond to acupuncture, or how much exercise/what type of exercise can help prevent relapse in different disease populations.  Specified information like this will help figure out the best course of treatments for each individual patient with maximum returns. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the field of integrative oncology!

By Laura Galindez, MSW, LSW

Integrative Oncology Patient Navigator, Perelman Center, Penn Medicine

 Warm Hugs Event at Abramson Cancer Center. Left to right are: Rachel Kagan, Laura Galindez, Lori Nonnemaker, Carolyn Israel and Ellen Thorn.

Warm Hugs Event at Abramson Cancer Center. Left to right are: Rachel Kagan, Laura Galindez, Lori Nonnemaker, Carolyn Israel and Ellen Thorn.

A Year End Update from BUCK

As we head through 2016, we here at BUCK want to thank everyone for supporting our mission. Whether you have liked us on Facebook, attended or volunteered at one (or more) of our events, and/or donated to our cause, you have made a difference. For that, we thank you!  Without you, BUCK would not have been able to accomplish what we have in only 16 months.


We have held three successful fundraising events since Buck passed away from cancer in August 2014, raising over $14,000 for our cause. We have over 430 “friends of BUCK” and almost 300 engaged followers on Facebook. We have reached out to several local research hospitals in Philadelphia, who are very supportive of our mission to provide research funding for complementary cancer treatments. 

Over the last several months, BUCK has recruited six additional Directors to the Foundation. These Directors have certain core competencies needed to move our mission forward.

On May 20, 2015, BUCK received its 501(c)(3) tax exempt status from the IRS. This has allowed us to work with corporate partners and large foundations to raise money. If you work for a company with a Corporate Giving Campaign that matches employee donations, please ensure BUCK is included (our EIN is 47-1671076), because for every buck you give, BUCK gets two! 

We are also looking for corporate sponsors and volunteers for our 2016 fundraising events. BUCK has many good volunteering opportunities, from marketing and event planning to accounting and content development. Your company may also donate to BUCK if you volunteer a certain number of hours per year. If your company is interested in sponsoring an event for BUCK or you are interested in volunteering, please go to the Contact Us page and send us a message!

All In

Hello, my name is Carolyn Israel and I am the Director of Operations for the BUCK Cancer Foundation.  My passion and dedication to the continued growth of this organization is driven by my personal connection with Buck and also my experience caring for family members during their battles with cancer.   My goal is to use my skills and resources to support this foundation in their mission to bring all forms of cancer treatment and research together and provide greater comfort and resources to cancer patients throughout their journey.

Prior to Buck being diagnosed with cancer, I had watched several family members struggle through their chemotherapy and radiation treatments and I often wondered…isn’t there something out there that can help ease their pain or give them more strength to fight?  When Buck began his cancer battle, his sister and my close friend Lori Nonnemaker, went “all in” with her brother, providing all the support and care she could give.  During Buck’s battle, Lori began researching alternative treatments to help her brother fight through the treatment process.  Her research introduced him to acupuncture and dietary changes that provided some relief and put a little pep back in Buck’s step.  Although Buck lost his battle to cancer, a lot was learned during this journey.

Like Lori, I am “all in”!  I want every person who is faced with this disease to have the information and tools they need to evaluate all types of cancer treatments and how they can be used together to provide the greatest comfort to them during their fight to beat cancer!

An Elegiac Season (I Remember…)

It's November in southeast Pennsylvania. After a hot summer, with autumn’s arrival the weather went from muggy and hot to crisp, cool and clear.

 Ahh, Fall.

 This time of year for me has always been a time of reflection, and I'm not the only one. Looking inward, I take the measure of life and my thoughts turn towards close friends and family who mean more to me with each passing season.

 With the rush of life: waking and sleeping, work and play, at times one can forget to appreciate those who really matter. With those who help design our lives.

 I can’t stop time, but I remember…

 How does one sum up a thirty-year friendship? I remember it as a very long, thoughtful conversation that could be picked up easily, no matter how much time had passed. Those late-night moments, drinking and talking on the back porch while the moon travels the sky. Singing and playing guitar together, perfect harmonies delivered with ease. Working side by side, first as college TV majors, writing, producing and directing ridiculous (and hilarious) video spoofs for class. Then later, as colleagues, directing and shooting thousands of commercials and stories; always trying for the most creative approach, pushing the boundaries to see where the line was. Easy, when you have such a long rapport of working together. Easy, when an enduring friendship is behind it all.

Easy, when you're working with someone close enough to be your brother.

Buck Nonnemaker and I weren't brothers in the sense that we grew up in the same household, with the same parents, but my long friendship with Buck taught me that there is more than one type of brother. Just like family, some friendships stand the test of time. Held together by music, creativity, and acceptance, my friendship with Buck created enduring memories of great times together, and taught me much about the value of the people who mean the most to us. About how much a truly close friend or family member can bring to a life.

And the blues. It taught me the value of the blues, too. I've been a musician all my life, and when I met Buck in college, I was at the tail end of my teenage years, a punk rock-infused kid with little interest in "old music." In part because of meeting Buck and some of my other friends from that time period, I gained a deeper appreciation for and ability to play all forms of music. Even if you couldn't think of anything else, you could always play "a little blues."

I remember…

On we went through life: college, first jobs, then successful careers. Learning, growing, creating. As with any family member, there were times when life got busy and we saw more or less of each other, but always there was the music. Always, those harmonies, both in a figurative and a musical sense.

I remember …

I sat in the bright sunshine the other day, thinking about what happened back there. A phone call, while I was away on vacation. Buck, with why he hadn’t been feeling well lately. Somehow, I already knew what he was going to tell me.

At first, things seemed pretty normal; the friendship worked as it always had, with maybe a little more urgency to play and sing together as often as we could. It seemed important to keep this part of life as much the same as possible when so much else was changing.

Things happened fast at the end. I saw Buck for the last time on the final night of his stay on Earth. That night, I and the guys who go all the way back to when we were at college together... we played. We played and sang songs we knew, and some that we didn't. Some sounded good and some... not so much. Buck wasn't talking by this time, but he still let us know through facial expressions, indicating his feelings about how we sounded. Even then, at the last, he was coaching us... making us better just by being there. I stayed late into the night, playing through "our set": songs Buck and I used to do together; talking with my wife and with Buck about what I remembered about each song.

Late that night, I played one final Beatles tune on my guitar... and told him I'd see him later. I didn't say goodbye.

I didn't need to.

So, yeah. I miss my friend. He passed on after a brave battle with cancer a little over a year ago, but some relationships you keep. I find Buck in my thoughts often: at work, and at play. An enduring friendship teaches you plenty: about how to get along, how to grow up, and, if you're lucky, how to be a better person. I have been lucky to have friends like that.

I can’t stop time, but I remember, with love and gratitude. I most often find my friendship with Buck in my music. A chord, a harmony, a turn of phrase: they all remind me. There are certain chords that make me think of Buck every time I hit them. 

 Because I learned them from him.

--Wade B. Walton, November 2015

Life After Buck – A Sister’s Perspective

As part of the BUCK Cancer Foundation’s 3-part series, Life After Buck, our president Lori Nonnemaker shares her perspective on moving on after losing her brother.

My brother Buck and I were always quite close, as we grew up and as adults.  We had the same likes and dislikes when it came to a lot of things; music, politics, humor.  I always knew that I had an ally when discussing a topic such as “saving the world” or a kindred soul when enjoying a good song or joke.  Buck wasn’t just my big brother, he was my best friend.  Losing him was very difficult.  After fighting cancer with him for two years; making every doctor’s appointment, bringing him lunch during his chemo weeks, and moving in with him in the last few months of his life, it was very difficult to “fill the void” after his death.  I didn’t know how I would ever make it without him.  His death left a huge hole (in my heart and in my life) and for several weeks after his death I didn’t know what to do…

Until one night in a dream Buck asked me “La, what did you do with all of your time before I got sick”, I told him “I had a life; a busy job, hobbies, great friends.”  He told me “why don’t you get back to that life and stop worrying about me.  I’m fine now!”  And it was true, my brother was fine.  He was with his Lord and finally after two years, was out of pain and feeling great.  And he was right, getting back to my life allowed the healing to begin.  It’s hard to think that it has been over a year since Buck passed away.  It was hard, initially, to find people to turn to for things you normally would have turned to Buck for.  But believe it or not, the void does get filled.  Maybe not completely but after 12 months, I can honestly say I’m in a much better place.  My life is getting back in order and Buck’s friends along with Jen and their four great kids have definitely helped fill the void.  Buck’s motto throughout his fight with cancer was “Day By Day” and that will be my motto as I live each year of my Life After Buck…day by day!

Life After Buck

One year ago, our four children lost their incredible Dad. I say incredible because he was just that. Buck was a Dad who adored his kids and showed it. He loved his Grace aka "Lovey", his "Jacko", "the Mick", and "Bea Bops".

The kids watched Buck battle cancer for 2 years. He lost a lot of weight and lost his strength due to all of the chemo and radiation he had to endure, and when the cancer started to ravage his liver, his color changed to a jaundice yellow. BUT he never lost his spirit and dedication to the kids.   I wasn't sure how the children would live through losing their dad. It is one of those things you never imagine. It was the unimaginable. There are moments when it still doesn't feel real. He can't be gone... And yet it's been a year now.

I believe he has a strong presence in our lives and always will. I see him in the children and their ways. He is still their dad just working his angle from heaven. A place he believed in with all his heart. Because of the battle he had to endure and his strong faith that heaven was ahead, the children know he is in a better place. Knowing that I think has given them the strength to live their lives with happiness which I know he would have wanted. They know he is watching over them. BUT he is missed beyond words!

Cancer Hits Home…

My name is Jim Israel and I am a close friend of the Nonnemaker family.  I met Buck about 20 years ago through his sister Lori, a close and dear friend.  From the first moment I met him, he made me feel like we were old friends.  Losing Buck to cancer at such a very young age was difficult for me as I have experienced close family members suffer through this disease as well.  My mother battled and survived breast and colon cancer, but eventually lost her life to other medical conditions.   My brother and sister fought extremely hard only to lose their battles with cancer. I am honored and blessed to be an Advisory Board member of the BUCK Cancer Foundation.  I would really like to see the Foundation make changes in the way cancer is fought along with improving the quality of life for a cancer patient during their treatment program.  I believe that cancer patients should have all treatment options and resources available to help them throughout their fight, which is why I support the mission of the BUCK Cancer Foundation!

Knowing Cancer Professionally and Personally

My name is Krissy Scott.  I am a registered nurse and have been working in the medical field for nearly 20 years.  I am privileged and honored to be on the Board of Directors of the BUCK Cancer Foundation as cancer has definitely affected me professionally but it has also affected me personally.  I met Buck last year as his homecare nurse and unfortunately only got to know him for a few, short months before he lost his battle with cancer.  But in that short time, it became evident to me what an incredible man and fighter he was. In this line of work, you come across and take care of so many patients who are severely ill and out of survival.  You tend to build a wall in an attempt to not get too attached or emotionally involved.  However, every so often one breaks through and Buck was definitely one of those patients.  While I was caring for Buck, my own father was also battling Stage IV colon cancer at the very young age of 65.  Unfortunately he also lost his battle in February of this year.  So, it is very gratifying to be a part of this wonderful Foundation that is focused on not only finding a cure for this horrific disease but also researching the complementary treatments that are available to provide a better means of managing the very difficult side effects from the cancer treatment as well as the cancer itself.  My hope with this Foundation is that we can bring awareness to the disease, its treatment and the many different options that are available to cancer patients.  But most importantly, to better the lives of those battling cancer and the loved ones who are caring for them!!

Krissy and her Dad

Nine Hundred

Let me introduce myself, my name is Tom Downes and I am an advisor to the BUCK Cancer Foundation. Witnessing cancer take four of my loved ones has changed the course of my life. It has driven me to be involved with this Foundation. According to the CDC website “Each year globally, about 14 million people learn that they have cancer, and another 8 million die from the disease.” That is more than 900 people dying every hour, Nine Hundred! Cancer seems to kill indiscriminately.

Eight years ago, my Mother began to lose her appetite while fighting cancer. She was told that she could no longer receive cancer treatments if she stopped eating. I had heard that patients have benefited from the use of cannabis in combating their nausea and loss of appetite. Knowing that marijuana gives you the “munchies”, I thought that this could help her regain her appetite and consequently remain on her chemotherapy. She was against the idea so it ended there. Unfortunately it was not long afterwards that she lost her battle with cancer just two years after my father lost his battle with Mesothelioma.

Some years later, I watched a few documentaries on CNN that were about the cancer fighting effects of a natural compound called Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is found in the cannabis sativa (or marijuana) plant. These documentaries inspired me to delve deeper into the topic of CBD on the Internet. It is overwhelming how much information exists about the medicinal uses of cannabis. Now, I am not a doctor but I have read numerous international medical reports that indicated that the cannabinoids in cannabis (including CBD) induce apoptosis (programmed cell death), halt angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and inhibit cell growth in cancer cells while not adversely affecting normal healthy cells. The effectiveness of cannabinoids as a treatment for a multitude ailments is astonishing.  I don’t know about you but this really caught my attention.

After reading hundreds of personal accounts and watching countless hours of documentaries, I began to think that there might be some legitimacy to these reports. There has never appeared to be a reported death from an overdose of cannabis. Also there doesn’t appear to be any reported drug interactions with cannabinoids, which would make it an ideal complimentary treatment for cancer.

Last year I found an article in the San Francisco Times about cancer patients being treated by cannabis oil that had remarkable results. I presented that article to our brother Buck and his oncologist in March of 2014. With his oncologist’s knowledge, Buck started taking CBD. Even though it was too late for Buck, my passion for how Cannabinoids can be used in the fight against cancer continues. In January 2015, my brother Billy was hospitalized due to a brain tumor...and so I began to google CBD and brain tumors and found that the FDA had recently approved CBD as an orphan drug to treat Glioblastomas (an aggressive type of brain cancer that has no cure). There was no indication that Billy was sick before he went to the Emergency room. He died two weeks later in the hospital from a Glioblastoma.

My passion for helping others by spreading awareness about CBD is slowly becoming a reality with the creation of the BUCK Cancer Foundation. I believe we are in the midst of a modern day medical renaissance in cancer treatment. I have read many success stories of patients who claim to have beaten cancer with the aid of cannabis oil.  My hope is that with the appropriate clinical trials that we will eventually change the way we treat cancer in America.

I understand the topic of researching the medicinal uses of cannabis (and CBD) is complicated, but the public (and especially cancer patients) deserves to know about the incredibly diverse medical benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids. It is my desire to create a documentary with the assistance of the BUCK Cancer Foundation on the CBD research that is currently taking place in some of the medical marijuana states.  Stay tuned to BUCKCancerFoundation.org for (hopefully) more to come on that!!