AACR Donors and Partners
It’s amazing that Andrew Chapman, DO, found time to hold the finish-line ribbon and show his support for the AACR Runners for Research team at the AACR Philadelphia Marathon 2022 last November. Dr. Chapman keeps busy as director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and executive vice president of oncology services at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia. There he holds the distinction of being the only director of a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center specializing in geriatric oncology.
Fifteen years ago, when Dr. Chapman was investigating models of care delivery and care transformation, he saw older adults having the “highest risk for falling through the cracks.” Because many older people need to rely on others for a multitude of needs—transportation, food preparation, adherence to medication, understanding their disease and treatments—Dr. Chapman began by establishing what he says is a first-of-its-kind multidisciplinary consultative clinic, complete with nutritionists, social workers, geriatricians, and pharmacists. At the center was Dr. Chapman, covering the medical oncology component as patients completed comprehensive geriatric assessments.
After more than a decade of seeing patients in this consultative mode, Dr. Chapman and his team understood a plethora of clinically relevant issues and planned how they could build out the program. In November 2022, they launched the groundbreaking Geriatric Oncology Center of Excellence. There, practitioners are guided by a comprehensive five-pillar model that includes answering fundamental questions such as “why is cancer associated with aging and what do we need to learn,” translating basic science into treatment, population research, analyzing the needs of long-term survivors, and training a workforce prepared to care for a rapidly increasing population of adults over 65.
Integral to advancing progress in geriatric oncology is fostering a global community. Dr. Chapman was thrilled with the AACR’s inaugural Special Conference: Aging and Cancer, held November 2022 in San Diego. “It was a really, really great conference,” said Dr. Chapman. “Clearly the leaders, globally, in this effort were all present.” Dr. Chapman is looking forward to the special conference becoming an annual event and is excited about plans for a new AACR Task Force dedicated to geriatric issues. He believes progress in cancer research happens by working together, whether in rural health care settings, community-based practices, NCI-Designated Cancer Centers like Jefferson, or organizations like the AACR. Dr. Chapman is a long-time runner, but for him, the correct metaphor for this initiative comes from basketball: “It’s a full-court press.”
After Robert J. Hogga Sr. died from pancreatic cancer at age 58 in June 2012, his son, Jon, searched for ways to honor his beloved father’s memory. Robert was a community leader and family man devoted to his wife, Kathleen, and three children: Robert Jr., Jon, and Jaclyn.
Ultimately, Jon found the AACR’s website and was impressed with the organization’s more than century-long commitment to supporting cancer research. He reached out to Danielle Triplett, AACR’s director of community relations and events, who helped him form the RJ Hogga Foundation in Chester County, Pennsylvania, to raise money for pancreatic cancer research.
In May 2013, the foundation held the inaugural RJ Hogga Memorial Golf Tournament, which quickly sold out, a testament to the “man who loved golf.” The tournament became an annual event.
This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the tournament. As Jon looks back, there isn’t one specific memory that comes to his mind, but rather the friends, family, and sponsors who keep showing up year after year. “The consistent support since we started doing this is the most humbling thing,” he said.
The foundation has gone beyond the golf tournament to other fundraising ventures, including a Designer Bag Bingo night. At each event, Jon likes to share research developments and stresses an important point. “We hope that one day we can help someone so they’re not in our situation, so they’re not standing up in front of people talking about this,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit, and we have some opportunities to change someone’s life.”
The “Amazing Ace” competition is an iconic tradition at Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia. High school seniors engage in a spirited variety show competition to raise funds for their favorite charity. “It was great to learn about everyone’s causes,” said Jacob Ross, who participated with 13 of his classmates in this year’s competition.
Ross’ choice of charity was the AACR. His family has supported funding for cancer research ever since his father, Michael Ross, MD, a sports medicine physician, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014. Michael and his wife, Wendy Ross, MD, a pediatrician, started Team Semi-Colon to run an 8K race in 2015. Although Michael died in 2019, the family’s support for cancer research continued with Team Semi-Colon’s participation in a race in 2019. Wendy credits the AACR with helping the family find a clinical trial that helped extend Michael’s time with his family.
The Amazing Ace was an opportunity for Ross to honor his father. “I think I sent 200 emails to various people around the community, and then more every other day,” he said. Ross raised more than $8,000 for the AACR.
Mande, who goes by the Twitch handle @WirelessRiot, thrives on empathy. She began streaming in 2018 and built a safe, caring community by playing comforting video games. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she expanded to more live-streaming content. Her “Cooking with Chronic Pain” series provided viewers with tips, tricks, and easy meals to help those experiencing pain maintain agency and confidence. “I wanted to showcase how people can learn to navigate cooking while dealing with the fact that some days you can’t get out of bed, and some days your knees don’t work, and some days your hands don’t work,” she said.
When AACR Players vs. Cancer (PvC) founder Michael Gilbert emailed her about teaming up for the first “Play to End Cancer Disparities” campaign in September 2021, Mande knew this was something special. Mande’s friend had just gone through cancer treatment and expressed the importance of patients seeing themselves in the doctors they interact with and having researchers who emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion. For Mande, the AACR campaign offered the perfect opportunity to make a difference by raising funds for the AACR’s cancer disparities initiatives. She knew from searching the AACR website that donating to the organization would fund change. That September, she put on a charity cooking stream with her friend, raising money for the AACR in lieu of birthday gifts.
Since 2021, Mande has been a key member of the AACR’s streaming initiative. She joined the PvC Advisory Board in 2021 and is working with a team to help the program grow. Because most of Mande’s viewers are streamers as well, she has been able to bring in a lot of new faces. “Because they know, ‘OK, well, Mande raised for them. She knows them. Let me reach out to them and see,’” she said. Streamers are a tight-knit group, so Mande was thrilled when the AACR brought in philanthropic streamer Libby Kamen as senior manager of online community relations in spring 2022 to help build the community.
With the PvC team raising more than $20,000 during PvC’s Spring to End Cancer this March, Mande is excited about what they can accomplish as new streamers and viewers join each day.