Our mission is to make metastatic cancer chronic, not deadly, by coordinating impactful events that empower communities, colleges, and businesses to financially support metastatic cancer research.
Even though over 90% of cancer mortalities are due to metastatic cancer — cancer that spreads from its original location to vital organs within the body — less than 5% of current cancer funding supports research geared towards understanding the mechanisms of metastasis. The Lucy Fund was created to lessen this statistical discrepancy, with hopes that one day researchers will find a way to make cancer a chronic, not deadly, disease.
Lucy was a simple woman who enjoyed the routine things in life. She loved to read, and would do so most nights before she went to bed. She loved to spend time with her family, whether it be through an intense game of cards or a long car ride to a basketball game. She found comfort in a tall glass of red wine and a tender strip of steak, which she would eat with her hands and gnaw down to the bone.
Lucy received the news that she had Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer on April Fool’s day in the spring of 2008—she was just 42 years old. She was health conscious, received yearly mammograms, and cancer still found its way into her breast. For the next four years, life plodded on normally. She did not lose her hair, but rather adhered to a strict pill regimen which caused her body to ache and her morale to dwindle.
She continued to be a present mother, dipping her hand into every aspect of her children’s lives. She continued to be a loving wife, even when her husband would jokingly antagonize her by poking her in the side while she was cooking breakfast. She continued to be a passionate teacher, who instilled voice and a love for writing into most students who entered her classroom. She continued to plan The Lucy Fund’s annual Party4Life, even as her health took most of her energy.
As the summer of 2012 came to an end, so did Lucy’s life—she passed away at the age of 46. She left behind two important things: the first, her memoir titled “Aren’t You Dead Yet?” which chronicles her life before and during her bout with cancer. The second is The Lucy Fund, which has become a vehicle to empower people to get educated about metastasis and involved in initiatives aimed to stop the spread of cancer.
It was Lucy’s goal, and is now her family’s, community’s, and NFCR’s goal, to see metastatic cancer become chronic, not deadly, so that one day when someone YOU love walks into a doctor’s office and gets told they have cancer, the prognosis will not be terminal. Everyone associated with The Lucy Fund and The National Foundation for Cancer Research sincerely thanks you for your dedication to spreading the word, and stopping the spread, of metastatic cancer.
Where the Money Goes
In order to better address the challenges facing cancer metastasis research, NFCR established the NFCR Center for Metastasis Research in 2001. Dr. Danny Welch, the center’s director, brings in leading researchers in science and medicine from other universities, forming a “laboratory without walls” to focus on the complexities of metastasis. With continued support from The Lucy Fund, Dr. Welch and his team have made great progress on many fronts of cancer metastasis research, creating opportunities for further advances in diagnosis and treatment of metastatic cancers.
Key accomplishments include:
- Discovery of eight metastatic suppressor genes. As long as metastasis suppressor genes are active, tumors are unable to spread – which should make cancer easier to treat. But in late stages of the disease, metastasis suppressor genes often falter, thus opening the door to metastasis.
- Defined the first metastasis suppressor pathway in cancer cells. By identifying the molecules responsible for controlling the expression of the KISS1 or BRMS1 gene, scientists can use this information when designing new anti-cancer therapies.
- Expanded our understanding of bone metastasis. Dr. Welch’s team used fluorescently tagged tumor cells, engineered to emit colors for tracking purposes in breast tumor models to the bone. This method led to the discovery that one of the first things tumor cells do when they “seed” or migrate to the bone is eliminate osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells.
- Why me? The answer to one of the first questions a patient asks when diagnosed with metastatic cancer may not be too far away. Dr. Welch’s team has developed a new model to identify which patients are more genetically susceptible to metastasis (and which are resistant). By confirming the heritability of metastasis susceptibility, doctors can better advise and screen individuals to customize therapy so that it is more effective and spare patients unnecessary treatments.