AACR Donors and Partners
For more than two years, Brandi Steiner and her doctors searched for the cause behind the excruciating pain and other symptoms she experienced: hives, fatigue, weight loss, hair loss, sweating, and anemia. In 2022, she was referred to a hematologist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia to investigate the anemia. The specialist suspected she had Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and ordered a biopsy and scans. In December 2022, the tests confirmed his hunch: Steiner, 25, had cancer. But she also had an answer to her symptoms, and her healing journey could begin.
Before her diagnosis and treatment, Steiner felt physically and emotionally depleted. Shortly after chemotherapy began in January 2023, however, her symptoms began to ease. She had her 12th and final round of chemotherapy in June 2023. “I am still processing the fact that the whole time it was cancer,” Steiner said. She continually hears stories like hers from other women. “I think as women especially, we are used to being told that chronic pain and discomfort are just part of life,” she said.
Steiner is grateful for her treatments and for research that leads to new and effective ways to treat cancer. To show her gratitude, she ran in the Dietz & Watson Philadelphia Half Marathon on November 18, 2023, as an AACR® Runner for Research. “Having cancer was a complete loss of control of my body, and I’m just excited to get to know and love this new, healed version of myself,” she said.
On November 11, 2022, Joan Davison set out from her Florida home on her last training run before competing in the Dietz & Watson Philadelphia Half Marathon with her daughter Erin in Philadelphia. Davison, a retired faculty member at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, was not a casual runner but an athlete who, in 1987, had been the first woman inducted into the Wheeling University Athletics Hall of Fame for basketball.
But something went terribly wrong on her final run: Davison had a stroke. Months of doctors visits and tests uncovered the cause: stage I lung cancer. On May 30, 2023, surgeons removed two segments of Davison’s lower left lung. Tests after surgery confirmed that she didn’t need to undergo follow-up treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
Showing admirable persistence, Davison and her daughter decided to train and run in the 2023 Dietz & Watson Philadelphia Half Marathon as part of the AACR® Runners for Research team. Less than six months after Davison’s surgery, mother and daughter ran a race that needed to be completed and raised $1,500 as of October 31, 2023.
John Kincade is a cancer survivor and host of a morning sports radio talk show in Philadelphia. Successful treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and testicular cancer fueled his passion for raising funds for cancer research, and since 2019, the American Association for Cancer Research® (AACR) has been the official charity partner of his radio show.
This year, Kincade established the John Kincade Scholarship Fund to provide AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards to early-career investigators. On May 12, 2023, shortly after the fund launched, Kincade announced he had been diagnosed with cancer for a third time, this time with colon cancer. Since then, he has redoubled his efforts to promote lifesaving cancer research. After a short hiatus for surgery, he returned to the air, sharing his personal insights into how funding cancer research results in state-of-the-art treatments.
The day before his chemotherapy began, Kincade ended his show with a message that everyone in the Philadelphia area would understand. He said he would enjoy a cheesesteak before chemotherapy because he wasn’t sure he would want one during treatment. Throughout the year, Kincade kept fans up to date on his treatment progress. He counted down his chemotherapy appointments by posting an ever-smaller tower of blocks on social media. When he lost his hair due to chemotherapy, co-host Pat Egan cut his hair in solidarity.
To date, the John Kincade Scholarship Fund has raised more than $35,000 to support early-career researchers. At the John Kincade Charity Golf Classic, Citadel Bank presented a check for $5,000. During the radio station’s annual Fan Fest, a local barbershop offered to paint sports teams’ logos on people’s heads if they donated to the AACR. On September 20, 2023, the 25th anniversary of John’s first cancer remission, donations poured in from fans and supporters. All the funds raised will benefit early-career cancer investigators and hasten progress toward cancer cures.
Accent Therapeutics is a Lexington, Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company committed to being a leader in the discovery and development of novel, life-changing therapies for cancer. Its commitment to cancer patients and survivors extends to philanthropy, which is why Accent established a fundraising partnership with the American Association for Cancer Research® (AACR) in August 2022.
“We are always looking for ways to support the community,” said Jacqueline Wheeler, associate director, executive administration, at Accent. Over the course of six weeks from October to December 2022, Accent employees raised more than $10,000 for the AACR through a bingo tournament, a costume contest, and a silent auction.
In 2023, the relationship continued to evolve and thrive. At the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 in April, Accent presented data on a novel treatment target in colorectal cancer. In June 2023, AACR representatives joined Accent staff at their office for a fundraising kickoff event. There, the AACR coordinated a virtual call with Aidan Morris, a stage III triple-negative breast cancer survivor and co-founder of the patient advocacy group Do Cancer, who offered her insights on the effects of cancer and the strength of survivorship. During the visit, Morgan Robinson of the AACR Foundation connected with Accent’s leadership, many of whom are AACR members.
As in 2022, fundraising in 2023 was hugely successful. Accent employees raised money for the AACR via bingo, a build-your-own sundae bar, and a silent auction. Accent staff also were invited to join the AACR Runners for Research Team at the 2023 AACR Philadelphia Marathon. This year, Accent staff raised $10,250 and look forward to expanding fundraising efforts in 2024.