Cancer

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Tracy Randall, Grammy Award nominated singer/songwriter, attorney and cancer survivor.

Randall isn't supposed to be here. In 2006, he was diagnosed with leukemia and after aggressive rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, his doctors gave up and in February 2007 told him to go home and prepare to die. Through pure will, a positive attitude, his faith and alternative medical treatments, he’s still here and still singing.

Mengwen Cao/KUT

A $50 million donation to the forthcoming Dell Medical Center at UT-Austin will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes.

The gift, which will be doled out over the next decade, has pushed the university over its fundraising goal to raise $3 billion over eight years and looks to provide a new model of care for cancer patients in Travis County and beyond.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Tracy Randall, Grammy Award nominated singer/songwriter, attorney and cancer survivor.

Randall isn¹t supposed to be here. In 2006, he was diagnosed with leukemia and after aggressive rounds of Chemo and radiation therapy, his doctors gave up and in February 2007 told him to go home and prepare to die. Through pure will, a positive attitude, his faith and alternative medical treatments, he’s still here and still singing.

facebook.com/OfficialAndisArmy

Well-known Austin attorney and activist Andi Sloan has died of complications from pneumonia, after a 7-year battle with cancer. 

While Sloan worked as an attorney and executive director of the Texas Advocacy Project, she was best known for her work lobbying California-based pharmaceutical company BioMarin to release an experimental drug to treat breast and ovarian cancer with her group Andi's Army.

Angelina Jolie just became part of a medical trend: More women are deciding to have their breasts removed to reduce the risk of cancer.

Over the past decade, doctors have noticed a big increase in the number of women choosing prophylactic, or preventive, mastectomies.

Some, like Jolie, have a genetic mutation that makes it much more likely that they will have breast cancer. Her mother died of the disease at age 56. Jolie is 37. She wrote about her decision in The New York Times.

Saying she is "writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," actress Angelina Jolie reveals on the op-ed pages of The New York Times that she had a double mastectomy earlier this year to substantially reduce the chances she will develop breast cancer.

Texas Tribune

  The private foundation that’s given financial support to the state’s troubled cancer-fighting agency says it’s shutting down.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – known as CPRIT – has its own problems. The agency is being investigated for its handling of some taxpayer-funded grants.

On Tuesday, though, it was the private foundation formed to supplement the salaries of CPRIT’s top executives that brought the wrath of state lawmakers.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The Cancer Research and Prevention Institute of Texas, known as CPRIT, is moving forward with its oversight committee’s grant-vetting process.

That’s despite a lockout by the state legislature that’s holding up nearly $182 million in funding to cancer-fighting organizations.

The institute’s interim executive director, Wayne Roberts, said CPRIT will keep moving ahead with reviewing nearly 300 grants, with hope that the state will lift the allocation ban.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s cancer research agency has revealed it handed out an $11 million grant without reviewing the proposal.

It’s the latest challenge facing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT.

The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics in June 2010, making it one of CPRIT's first grants.

The cancer research institute says the oversight was discovered during an internal review.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The head of the state’s $3 billion cancer fighting agency sought to reassure some of its biggest supporters today after a recent wave of resignations at the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. CPRIT’s executive director Bill Gimson delivered an opening address at a three-day conference that started today in northwest Austin.

It was Gimson’s first public speech since 33 scientific peer reviewers resigned in protest over funding decisions and accusations of favoritism. Gimson acknowledged the setback but defended the agency’s process.

“It’s my promise that CPRIT will maintain that gold-standard peer review process, always pick the very, very best game changing projects, do our best to get life-saving products to Texas cancer patients as quickly as possible,” Gimson said from the podium.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s $3 billion effort to battle cancer was delivered a major blow this month when 18 scientific reviewers resigned. (You can read most of their resignation letters here.) Many quit in solidarity with their Nobel Prize-winning scientific director, who has also quit. Most of them allege that the organization was favoring politics, rather than science, when picking which projects to fund.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas was born five years ago when Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the state to issue $3 billion to fund cancer research and prevention. It was championed by Austin cyclist Lance Armstrong on shows like Texas Monthly Talks with Evan Smith.

“I think it will pass,” Armstrong said then. “But I think it needs to pass with a lot of success. I think it needs to pass big.”

The ballot proposition did “pass big,” with 61 percent approval. Millions of dollars started flowing to universities and private companies for research, commercialization and prevention projects.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong is stepping down from his role as chairman of the cancer-awareness charity Livestrong, the organization said in a press release today. (Update at 8:34 a.m. Separately, Nike dropped its sponsorship of Armstrong.)

Photo courtesy texas4000.org

A group of students called Texas 4000 will embark tomorrow from Austin on the world’s longest annual charity bike ride – all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.

Riders from the community can join the group on the first leg of their 4,687 mile journey this Saturday morning. They leave from Running Brushy Middle School in Cedar Park at 8 a.m. There are several other events leading up to the kick-off that provide opportunities for the community to interact with the riders.

This is the group’s ninth year to make the ride. To date the organization has raised more than $3 million for the Livestrong Foundation.

Photo courtesy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

The University of Texas is committing $75 million to kick start the new Institute for Applied Cancer Science, which will focus on speeding up the discovery and delivery of effective cancer drugs at a time when pharmaceutical companies have scaled back research and development.

Gov. Rick Perry, taking a break from his busy pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination, was on hand for the announcement at the south campus of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, site of the new facility, in Houston on Monday. Perry said the institute would help Texas cement its position as a leader in cancer research and scientific innovation.

“I believe this state represents a unique crossroads, a place where academic research can come together with a very vibrant private sector to tap into this steadily growing biosciences sector. We’re just scratching the surface of its potential,” Perry said. “We’re creating a culture that will help ensure that great ideas that are born in Texas will stay in Texas, from the laboratory to the marketplace, and then we will export them around the world.”

Photo by Josh Berglund at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/people/tyrian123/

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life fundraiser will be taking place at the Westlake High School track today from 2 pm until 2 am.