Montville Family Fights Cancer Together
New foundation formed to help fund research for rare disease.
Linda Gannon got an unusual gift for Christmas last year: a certificate and a promise that her family would start a foundation in her name to fund research for curing the rare form of cancer that she has.
The 52-year-old has adrenal cancer, an aggressive disease that affects her adrenal glands. Only about one person in a million suffers from adrenal cancer, according to Michele Gannon, Linda Gannon's daughter and the 25-year-old president of the ACC C.U.R.E. Foundation, which was formed in Gannon's name.
Gannon, a lifelong Montville resident, was diagnosed in February of 2009 after she went to the doctor for having flank pain in her side. As a precaution, her primary care physician sent her for an ultrasound, at which point doctors discovered a tumor that was blocking them from viewing her kidney.
"It was just fortunate for me that he acted on that right away. It could have been a lot worse," she said.
Gannon began to see doctors at the University of Michigan Medical Center, a primary research institute for adrenal cancer. There, she was prescribed one of the only drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration for her disease. She took the medication for about three years and also had one of her adrenal glands removed.
Now, Gannon is doing much better and is confident she will be alright.
"I just feel so fortunate," she said. "My doctor gave me the news that he thinks I will be fine. I just told him I wanted to do whatever I could to make a difference for somebody else and my family knew that."
Her family put into action a promise they made to her that they would help others be able to receive the care at the University of Michigan Medical Center that she had. This summer, they formed the ACC C.U.R.E Foundation, led by Michele Gannon and run with help from Gannon's entire family.
"It was really a conjoined effort-me and my dad and my brother," Michele Gannon said.
The foundation is gearing up for their inaugural fundraising event this month. Originally, the fundraiser, a 5K run called "Run 4 a Cure," was scheduled to be hosted Nov. 4, but Michele Gannon said the event had to be canceled as the area was still reeling from Superstorm Sandy. The event wil now be held on April 28 beginning at 10 a.m. (registration is at 9 a.m.) and all proceeds will go to the foundation.
Michele Gannon said events like this are important to help raise money for the cause, particularly the disease ACC C.U.R.E. is fighting.
"Because nobody knows about it, there's not a lot of funding out there for it," she said.
She said the foundation is hoping to help support the researchers at the University of Michigan who are experimenting with treatments for the disease. While the university departments will apply for grant funding as well, Gannon said private assistance is needed to move research along more quickly.
But the event is not only about raising money. Linda Gannon said it is also comforting to gather with others who have had or are still fighting the disease to offer support. Several adrenal cancer patients and Gannon's doctor from Michigan are planning to attend.
"We've come to find other people that have the same rare cancer and we've found a group of people and we have now a bond with these people," she said. "It's just so heartwarming to get together and talk and they know exactly what you're going through."
Participants can run or walk in the event and can register and learn more about the organization here.