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Blog Entries - tag: 'Head and neck cancer'

Congratulations 2018 Grant Awardees!

Posted on: November 12, 2018 12:00 am
Tags: Research, Head and neck cancer, Grant awards

Brandon's Foundation was able to offer $45,000 in the form of two research grants in 2018! This is only due to your ongoing donations and support to end head and neck cancer through research of new treatments and cures. Thank you so very much! We are please to share where your donations went this year by introducing you to the awardees, and we hope you will continue to support Brandon's Foundation so other worthy projects receive funding in 2019 and beyond!

Vinita Takiar, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and member of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute (UCCI) and her multidisciplinary team, including medical oncologist Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD, surgeon Alice Tang, MD, and post-doctoral fellow Christina Wicker, PhDwere awarded the 2018 Brandon C. Gromada Head &Neck Cancer Foundation Research Pilot Grant of $25,000. Their project, Developing Head and Neck Patient-Derived Organoid Models for Preclinical Testing,involves collecting pilot data looking at patient-derived organoids (PDO). Growing tumors in the lab directly from patients will provide the researchers with a new way to study head and neck cancers and explore new “personalized medicine” treatment approaches. Dr. Takiar and the Foundation's grant award were recently feature in UC News.

Brandon’s Foundation (providing $20,000) joined with the Conquer Cancer Foundation, of the American Society of Clinical Oncology(ASCO), to fund a 2018 Young Investigator Award(YIA) for a head and neck cancer research project Devarati Mitra, MD, PhD, of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, was awarded this YIA for her project Radiation Therapy in Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Resistant Head and Neck Cancer. Dr. Mitra’s research seeks to understand why most patients with head and neck cancer do not respond to immunotherapy and investigate if radiation therapy can be used as a tool to help overcome treatment resistance. Ultimately, she hopes these studies will inform how radiation therapy may be best combined with anti-PD1 treatment to maximize disease response rates and improve outcomes for those with recurrent or metastatic disease. ASCO included a feature about this grant award, Brandon and the Foundation in the November 2018 issue of ASCO Connections

 

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New UCCI - Brandons' Foundation Research Fund

Posted on: March 23, 2018 4:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Head and neck cancer research, Treatment, Cure, Fundraising

Establishment of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation Research Fund

Several weeks ago Brandon's Foundation made an agreement to award an annual grant to a University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute (UCCI) researcher for an innovative head and neck cancer research project. Last Friday, March 16, Brandon's 44th birthday, members of the foundation's Board of Directors, Brandon's daughter and one of his nephews met with physicians and researchers at UCCI to present a check for $25,000 for the first annual grant award. The decision to create this collaboration was based on several factors: 1. Brandon received excellent care at UC Health Barrett Cancer Center during his illness; 2. Each year since the first grants were awarded (2014) at least one UCCI research project submission has been a top scorer and been awarded Foundation funding. (Submissions were subject to blind peer review and scoring by experts in head and neck cancer.) 3. The Board of Directors will continue to have a voice in research project selection. 4. The majority of support and donations to the Foundation come from the area served by UCCI. 5. This has the potential to help draw even more experts in head and neck cancer to UCCI and this area. The Foundation plans to continue to award an additional grant, which will be open to other head and neck cancer researchers in the USA. A "Request for Abstracts" (RFA) for that award will be sent out in the next 1 to 2 weeks.

AmazonSmiles

Brandon's Foundation can now benefit from the AmazonSmile Foundation when you sign up for AmazonSmiles and choose (under the "Or pick your own charitable organization") the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation to benefit from eligible purchases made through the AmazonSmiles URL. They will then donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Brandon's Foundation! (For more information, see their About page.) And from March 12 - 31 Amazon is tripling the donation amount to 1.5% when customers make their first eligible AmazonSmiles purchase! Please head to AmazonSmiles NOW to sign up and choose (or change your choice of charity to) Brandon's Foundation!

Great Food for a Great Cause

Make your reservation NOW for April 16, 2018 at The National Exemplar (6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, OH 45227) for the sixth annual Great Food for a Great Cause. Whether you dine in or carry out, all food proceeds from the 5 to 9 p.m. dinner hours will be donated to Brandon's Foundation! Reservations may be made online or by calling (513) 271-2103. See you there!

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It's time to "laissez les bon temps rouler" February 10, 2018!

The online box office is open to purchase tickets for Brandon's Foundation's third annual Mardi Gras MASKerade, featuring Cincinnati party band Robin Lacy & DeZydeco! This fun-filled fundraising event takes place February 10, 2018 - the Saturday before Ash Wednesday - from 7:30 p.m. to Midnight at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley (3021 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45209) Free valet parking will be available. This event gets bigger and better every year! A DJ will follow Robin Lacy & DeZydeco to keep attendees on the dance floor until midnight. And back by popular demand, tarot card readers will predict guests’ futures and the photo booth will again snap zany group keepsake photos! Guests may compete in the costume contest for the honor of being crowned Queen and King of the MASKerade. (Amy attire is welcome.  Other highlights include a silent auction with a variety of fabulous items, fun and exciting prize-filled raffle baskets, split the pot, the Benn Banks Mardi Gras Duck Pond - a wine (sponsored by Constellation Brands) and craft beer raffle where everyone is a winner, and more! A signature Mardi Gras beverage can be enjoyed in the Foundation’s souvenir Hurricane Glass.

The first 50 tickets sold online offer a $25 discount so each Early Bird ticket is only $50! Once these are gone, the price returns to the $75 per ticket, so purchase tickets TODAY!

Mardi Gras MASKerade sponsors receive special treatment at the event! For information about sponsorship opportunities, Contact Us at Brandon's Foundation.

Don't miss out! Join us February 10th. Have a great time as you "laissez les bond temps rouler" AND Head For A Cure to end head and neck cancer through research! 

 

SAVE the date April 16, 2018 from 5-9 p.m. dinner hours for the sixth annual Great Food for a Great Cause at The National Exemplar in Mariemont, OH. All proceeds from food purchases, whether dine in or carry out, will be donated to Brandon's Foundation! More information to come!

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2017 Grant Awards

Posted on: September 18, 2017 11:00 am
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Grant recipients, Fundraising

The Board of Directors of Brandon’s Foundation recently announced its 2017 research grant awardees. Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology, University of Cincinnati (UC), Ohio is the recipient of a $20,000 grant to investigate Novel Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer using FDA-approved Drugs. Wendi O’Neill, DDS, The Ohio State University (OSU), Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery received a $15,000 grant to study A Novel Immunotherapy Combination for Improved Head and Neck Cancer Outcomes. A third grant of $10,000 was awarded to Tammara L. Watts, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Department of Otolaryngology to study Crenolanib: Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment in Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Twenty-four research proposals were submitted in response to the Foundation’s Request for Proposals (RFP) in March 2017. The Foundation’s Board depends on the reviews of project proposals by experts in the field of head and neck cancer to determine which projects show the most promise and best “fit” the Foundation goals. The Board is very grateful to these reviewers, who give generously of their valuable time to help with this process. Thank you to 2017 reviewers:

William Barrett, MD – University of Cincinnati

Mihir K. Bhayani, MD – University of Chicago

Keith A. Casper, MD – University of Michigan

Brenda Diergaarde, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Michael Gibson, MD, PhD – Vanderbilt University

Stephen Lai, MD, PhD – MD Anderson

Tahir Latif, MD. MBA – University of Cincinnati

Carol Lewis, MD, MPH – MD Anderson

Michelle L. Mierzwa, MD – University of Michigan

Yash J. Patil, MD – University of Cincinnati

Jack Phan, MD, PhD – MD Anderson

Curtis R. Pickering, PhD – MD Anderson

Timothy D. Struve, MD – University of Cincinnati

Shirley Yu Su, MD – MD Anderson

Vinita Takiar, MD, PhD – University of Cincinnati

Eric Thorpe, MD – Loyola (Chicago)

Keith Wilson, MD – University of Cincinnati

Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD -- University of Cincinnati

(Several additional reviewers preferred to remain anonymous.)

 Summary of Funded Proposals

Novel Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer using FDA-approved Drugs (Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD, UC)

Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) are commonly treated with surgery, radiation, and/or conventional chemotherapeutic drugs such as cisplatin and taxol. However, all these treatments are associated with debilitating side effects, and a significant decrease in the quality of life. Moreover, treatment failure due to loss of drug responsiveness are common. Consequently, there is an urgent need for alternative, more targeted therapies for this disease. Our laboratory discovered that dopamine, a small molecule best known for its role in brain functions, is also involved in HNC. Activation of specific dopamine receptors, named D1R, located on the surface of cancer cells, suppressed cell growth and increased the ability of conventional anti-cancer drugs to kill the cells. The first objective is to determine the relative occurrence of D1R in several hundred pathological tumor samples, and correlate D1R presence with advance disease stage, responsiveness to treatment, and overall patient survival. The second objective is to use four dopamine/D1R-associated drugs, which are already approved by the FDA to treat unrelated health conditions. HNC cells will be incubated with each anti-D1R drug, alone or together, with cisplatin or taxol, and cell growth/death will be determined. We predict that a combination treatment will be highly beneficial as a future treatment for HNC patients, as it should markedly decrease the severe side effects of conventional chemotherapeutic drugs while increasing the overall efficacy of tumor-suppression.     

A Novel Immunotherapy Combination for Improved Head and Neck Cancer Outcomes (Wendi O’Neill, DDS, OSU)

Despite improved treatment outcomes for many cancer types, little progress has been made in the management of poorly differentiated head and neck cancer (HNC). Our work aims to improve patient outcomes by combining two promising therapeutic strategies targeting PD1 and HIF. Each plays distinct and important roles in cancer, yet there is established regulatory interplay between them. Inhibiting these key players together makes an intriguing and rational therapeutic strategy. We anticipate that our novel combination of HIF and PD-1 inhibitors will achieve superior anti-cancer activity compared to either agent alone. Our work, if successful, will provide the needed evidence to design and initiate a clinical trial to assess the activity of our novel therapeutic combination in patients with poorly differentiated HNC. 

Crenolanib: Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment in Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Tammara L. Watts, MD, PhD, UTMB)

Treatment costs for patients with head and neck cancer exceed $3 billion annually. Treatment failures give rise to recurrent and/or persistent disease often associated with concomitant resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy. The clinical behavior observed by head and neck surgeons, like myself, suggests that therapies aimed at solely targeting cancer cells are inadequate and that new treatment modalities are urgently needed. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and other non-cancerous cells form a dense tumor associated microenvironment around the cancer cells, and are known to be critical contributors to the growth of several solid tumors. This dense tumor microenvironment (TME) is pathognomonic for patients with oral cavity (OC)- and oropharyngeal (OP) squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Our central hypothesis is that treatment failures and local regional recurrence in OC- and OPSCC is derived, at least in part, from the presence of TME MSCs.  Therefore,disruption of MSC chemotaxis to the TME may inhibit the effects of MSCs, namely on the proliferation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in the TME, thereby improving tumor cell responsiveness to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. The monies from this grant will be used to fund the in vivo (mouse) studies to determine the effect of stem cells on tumor development and metastasis in OC cancer.

Thank you for your continued support! 

Congratulations to the 2017 grant award recipients! Thank You, reviewers! And a HUGE Thank You to all who donate to Brandon’s Foundation via the web site Donate page (directly or mail in), participating in the Mardi Gras MASKerade, hosting and attending events that benefit the foundation, such as Great Food for a Great Cause and MCA Day Chicago (see Past Events)! In the last four years Brandon’s foundation has awarded more than $140,000 to fund innovative head and neck cancer research projects. None of this would be possible without your continued contributions. Thank you!

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Tickets now on sale for February 25's Mardi Gras MASKerade 2017!

Posted on: December 5, 2016 3:00 pm
Tags: Mardi gras, Maskerade, Head and neck cancer, Research, Head for a cure

The online box office is now open for tickets to Brandon's Foundation's second annual Mardi Gras MASKerade! This rollicking fundraising event takes place February 25, 2017 - the Saturday before Ash Wednesday - from 7:30 p.m. to Midnight at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley (3021 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45209) Free valet parking will again be available. This year’s event will be bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event! A Dixieland jazz combo will welcome participants to the party while DJ Mowgli will spin party dance tunes that will have everyone on their feet! Additional tarot card readers will predict guests’ futures and the photo booth again be available to snap zany group keepsake photos! Guests may participate in the costume contest to compete for the MASKerade King and Queen, although any attire is welcome.  Other highlights include a silent auction with several vacation/get-a-way packages among a variety of other fabulous items, fun and exciting prize-filled raffle baskets, split the pot, wine & craft beer raffle where everyone is a winner, and more! A signature Mardi Gras beverage can be enjoyed in the Foundation’s souvenir Hurricane Glass.

Purchase tickets TODAY for $75 per ticket. 

Mardi Gras MASKerade sponsors will receive special treatment at the event! For information about sponsorship opportunities, Contact Us at Brandon's Foundation.

Don't miss out! Join us February 25th when we "laissez les bond temps rouler" and Head For A Cure to end head and neck cancer through research! 

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#GivingTuesday 2016

Posted on: November 16, 2016 10:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Giving tuesday

On November 29th, #GivingTuesday 2016, help end head and neck cancer by giving to the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation. Your contribution will fund the 2017 research grants that will “ultimately find a cure for this unforgiving disease" (Weg Onkeko, MD, PhD - UCSD). Please DONATE and Head for a Cure with us Tuesday, November 29th. 

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Bleed for Brandon's Cause and 2016 Grant Awards

Posted on: July 11, 2016 11:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Hoxworth blood centers, Bleed for a cause

Bleed for a Cause

Once again it’s time to Bleed for Brandon’s (Gromada) Cause! Hoxworth Blood Center's Bleed for a Cause takes place between July 18 to August 13 at any Hoxworth Blood Center neighborhood donor centers or any blood drive, such as onsite work, or organizational drives or mobile blood drives.

Brandon Gromada’s Foundation receives points toward a monetary award, but donors must verbally provide a good portion of the foundation’s name when arriving to donate. (No Say, No Pay!) A donation of whole blood is worth 1 point, red cells or plasma earn 2 points, and platelets receive 3 points. An extra 2 points are added for first-time donors. (If you don’t qualify as a donor, PLEASE recruit new and seasoned donors!)

Roll up your sleeve! Whether donating at a neighborhood center, on-site blood drive or a Hoxworth Mobile Bus, make an appointment NOW online or by calling 513-451-0910. (Phone appointment is necessary for platelet donation. Also, phone coordinators can find donor sites closest to you for any type of blood donation.)

Last year Brandon’s Foundation won the second place $5000 award. Please help win the $10,000 top award to fund the research that will put an end to head and neck cancer!

2016 Grant Awards

The Board of Directors of Brandon's Foundation announced the 2016 research grant awardees on June 2, the four-year date of Brandon’s death. Recipients of a $20,000 renewal grant are Scott Langevin, PhD and Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD of the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine for a renewal of Efficacy of an LSD1 Inhibitor (GSK2879552) for Treating Sinonasal Squamous Cancer. Neil Bhola, PhD and Jennifer Grandis, MD of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSD) are awarded a $10,000 grant to study Investigating the Therapeutic Role of BRD4 on Cetuximab Resistance in HNSCC, and Laura Conforti, PhD of the University of Cincinnati receives $6,000 to study Tumor Microenvironment and Immune Therapies.

Brandon's Foundation owes a real debt of gratitude to the experts in head and neck cancer who review submitted research proposals. The review process is "blinded," so reviewers do not know who submitted any proposal. Also, proposals are sent to experts outside of their own healthcare institution. This year's reviewers included: El Mustapha Bahassi, PhD (UC), Beth M. Beadle, MD, PhD (MDA), Lauren A. Byers, MD (MDA), Brenda Diergaarde, PhD (UPMC), Adam S. Garden, MD (MDA), Michael Gibson, MD, PhD (UH Cleveland), Jennifer Grandis, MD (UCSF), Stephen Y. Lai, MD, PhD  (MDA), Mohan Natarajan, PhD (UTHSCSA), Jack Phan, MD, PhD (MDA), Timothy D. Struve, MD (UC), Theresa L. Whiteside, PhD (UPMC), John Yordy, MD, PhD (MDA). (A couple of reviewers preferred to remain anonymous.)

Congratulations to the recipients! Thank you to all of our Foundation donors and project committee members, and the research proposal reviewers who make these research grants possible! It would not happen without you!

 Also, Brandon’s Foundation was acknowledged for its help in funding the research of Weg Ongkeko, MD, PhD (UCSD) leading to the report The Non-coding Landscape of Head & Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Oncotarget.


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Great Food for a Great Cause - May 23rd

Join us Monday, May 23rd from 5-9 p.m. as the extraordinary staff of The National Exemplar, 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, OH 45227, hosts its fourth annual Great Food for a Great Cause to benefit Brandon's Foundation! Make reservations NOW for between 5-9 p.m. to dine in or carry out from the restaurant's regular menu. All profits from the evening, excluding taxes and tips, will be donated to Brandon’s Foundation! Here is a chance to enjoy great food while funding research to fight head & neck cancer. Call 513-271-2103 or reserve a table online. We'll see you there! 

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Head For A Cure At CycleBar - April 16, 2016

Posted on: March 24, 2016 11:00 am
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Fundraising, Cyclebar, Cyclethon, Sponsor

Head For A Cure At CycleBar during Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week when Brandon's Foundation teams with Kappa Sigma at the University of Cincinnati fraternity and the CycleBar Rookwood studio for an indoor cyclethon! Please join us April 16th to enjoy an indoor workout experience during the 2 p.m.Classic (Rock) Ride or the 3:30 p.m. Battle of the Sexes ride! If you've never tried it, April 16th is the perfect time! Whether you're ready for the Tour de France or haven't been cycling since childhood, this is the perfect activity since only you decide how hard to push yourself. Please recruit fellow riders to sign up, so you have plenty of familiar company!

The participation fee is only $25, or $20 for students with the Promo code*. All participants will receive a CycleBar water bottle, pre- and post-ride snacks, and more. Want even more incentives? Ask others to sponsor your ride. Not only do sponsorships increase the funding raised for head and neck cancer research, but raise $100 and receive an event performance t-shirt; raise $150 to receive the event t-shirt plus an event sports towel or an event Sweaty Bands headband! Creating your online fundraising page is easy, so Start Fundraising for sponsorship of your ride today! If you prefer paper and pen, simply request the paper Sponsorship form* and turn everything in the day of your ride. 

* To obtain a hard copy of the Sponsorship form or request the Student Participant Promo Code: email bcg.headneckcafdn@gmail.com. Insert "Sponsorship form" in the subject line and it will be sent in a return email. To receive the promo code, insert "Student Promo Code" in the subject line, and include your name and school in the body of the message.

The number of "spinning" bikes is limited, so sign up NOW! All proceeds for this event will benefit Brandon's Foundation to fund the research that will put an end to head and neck cancers. 

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Request for (Research) Proposals - 2016

Posted on: March 23, 2016 8:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Request for proposals, Thank you

The Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation sent its 2016 RFP (Request for Proposals) at the end of February to researchers investigating head and neck cancer across the United States. Proposals must be received by March 31st to qualify for a Foundation 2016 grant award. Those meeting Foundation criteria are sent to other head and neck cancer experts for "blind" review. However, the Foundation's Board of Directors makes the final decision regarding the grant awardee(s).

This all sounds far easier than it is! With so many worthy head and neck cancer research projects that need funding, it can be painfully difficult to decide which to help fund. We know it means other promising projects may never get off the ground. 

This process reminds us of how deeply grateful we are to those who have contributed and continue to contribute to Brandon's Foundation, so that at least some innovative projects have a chance to make a difference. And, hopefully, the reason for regular fundraising pleas is understood. 

Thank you so very much for your ongoing interest and help. 

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Announcing the 2015 Research Grant Recipients

Posted on: June 2, 2015 9:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Grant recipients, Fundraising

Funds will go to head and neck cancer researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the University of California, San Diego

Brandon C. Gromada died of head and neck cancer at the age of 38 three years ago today, June 2, 2012. It seems fitting that the foundation named for him announces its 2015 research grants on this third anniversary of his death. The recipients of the two grants are Nooshin Hashemi, M.D. and El Mustapha Bahassi, Ph.D. of the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, and Rutherford (Weg) M. Ongkeko, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). 

The UC College of Medicine researchers are being awarded a $20,000 grant to study "Pharmacogenomic Profiling of Circulating Tumor Cells to Guide Head and Neck Cancer Therapy." A $15,000 grant will provide seed funding for Dr. Ongkeko’s research, "Characterization of Long Non-coding RNA in Poorly Differentiated Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma," at UCSD. The recipients of both grants expressed similar themes when notified their research projects were chosen for the two grants. They noted the difficulties for those seeking funding for head and neck cancer research. According to Dr. Bahassi, "Generous gifts from foundations like yours are becoming essential as research funding is facing daunting challenges." All reiterated Dr. Ongkeko’s pledge to use the funds wisely in order to better understand head and neck cancer and explore treatments that "ultimately find a cure for this unforgiving disease."

The foundation’s grant selection process takes time and effort. A “request for proposals” is made early in the year. Each submitted proposal is then sent to several experts in the field of head and neck cancer who volunteer their time to review and rate various merits of a proposal. (Submitted proposals are “blinded,” so reviewers do not know a researcher’s name.) The foundation’s board of directors uses the reviewers’ ratings to guide the final selection of projects for funding.

About Head and Neck Cancer

"Cancer of the head and neck, which includes oral cancer, receives little public attention," said Karen Gromada, chairperson of the foundation’s board of directors and Brandon’s mother, “although it is among the most common – and the most deadly – cancers in the United States.” The sixth most common cancer in the United States, its incidence has risen significantly in the last one to two decades among those 25-50 years of age. Usually a form of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), head and neck cancer’s low 50% five-year survival rate has changed little for decades.  The goal of Brandon's foundation is to provide funding for innovative head and neck cancer research, which will result in cures and more effective, less-debilitating treatments while also raising awareness about the disease. The Gromadas want to end the devastation of head and neck cancer so "no other family will have to deal with the sadness we will always feel with Brandon’s death."

Join us now to HEAD 4 A Cure! Donate today and help end head and neck cancer tomorrow.

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April is Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month

Five years ago - April 2010 - I'd never heard of Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month, although our family had recently become acquainted with head and neck cancer. Only a few weeks earlier Brandon called with news that brought me, his mother, to my knees. I vividly remember where I was and what I was doing as he explained that one of the several nasal polyps he'd had removed a few days before had shown "poorly differentiated - or undifferentiated - squamous cell cancer" in his right maxillary sinus. One moment I was standing, the next I was not. My knees and my mind had buckled. But hey, how bad could this be? Surely, it was treatable. Cancer treatment had come so far.

The pathology findings from the examination of the nasal polyps were discussed by the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute's tumor board. Surgery, a maxillectomy, was scheduled for later in March, and the head and neck surgeon told Brandon they would do what was needed to remove the cancer, which could include the creation of cleft palate, the removal of his right eye, or removal part of his jaw and/or nose. The cancer was found on a single turbinate bone at the nasal area of the sinus and that bone was removed. The mucus membrane was stripped from the right maxillary sinus and sent to Pathology for microscopic examination. No other evidence of disease was discovered. We all breathed deep sighs of relief. Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month came and went without our realization that April was designated as such.

Then during an early August follow-up appointment, a resident palpated enlarged lymph nodes on the left side of Brandon's neck and found a "spot" at the back of his throat. A biopsy showed more of the same poorly differentiated, HPV-negative squamous cell cancer (SCC). A PET (positron emission tomography) scan found no other "hot spots" below the neck, so everyone felt positive as he dove into the whirlwind of port (port-a-cath) insertion for chemotherapy, fitting for his specially molded radiation mask, and the two months of the common brutal treatment for most head and neck cancers -pinpointed radiation 5 days a week for 7 to 8 consecutive weeks combined with chemotherapy every 2 to 3 weeks. (The blog photo of a smiling Brandon was taken at the end of the chemo-radiation combo. His port is visible just below is right collarbone and the radiation burns are obvious.)  Radiation resulted in burns outside and in, affected and thickened mucus production, caused his sense of taste to change. Chemotherapy damaged his hearing, produced strange tastes in his mouth, upset his digestive system in all ways imaginable. He chose to wait and see if he'd need a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) feeding tube, which many, if not most, on the treatment journey for head and neck cancer now receive prior to treatment. None of us know how he continued to eat and drink throughout treatment, but he did, and he never shared how difficult it must have been. 

The post-treatment PET scan revealed new "hot spots" on a rib and his femur. He learned he was to become a father while undergoing radiation treatment for the new spots. The afternoon of his last radiation treatment, he hopped a jet to Paris to meet his wife, who was already there for business, for a long Easter weekend in the city of love and lights. They made the most of every moment. They welcomed daughter Morgan on December 3, 2011. Meanwhile, Brandon fought more and more "hot spots." Different forms of traditional and trial chemotherapy agents were tried. Each caused new and more uncomfortable side effects. None made an impact. He was fitted for a new radiation mask when "spots" appeared in his brain. The disease continued to march through his body, quickly overwhelming body systems. He died June 2, 2012. His father and I founded Brandon's Foundation the next day.

Head and neck cancer receives very little attention compared to many others. It is thought to be an old person's disease related to a lifetime of tobacco or alcohol use. However, the number of people affected by some form of head and neck cancer is growing and this growth is mainly among younger adults. Part of it is related to the same forms of HPV that cause most cervical cancer, but HPV does not account for many other cases. It is estimated that almost 46,000 will be diagnosed with some form of head and neck cancer during 2015 alone - that is about 125 persons each day being told they have this cancer. It's anticipated that more than 8600 of those journeying with head and neck in this country will die this year. 

Don't forget your own screening for head and neck cancer, as early detection can make the difference. Be sure a thorough head and neck cancer screening is part of every dental check up. If you're in the Cincinnati area, call (513) 475-8400 to reserve a spot for a free screening by the University of Cincinnati Health Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the Barrett Cancer Center Area F from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on April 16. Last year the team performed approximately 230 screenings of which 17 required referred for follow up. 

Screening and early detection are only one part of the head and neck cancer picture. it is time to change the survival statistics and it is time for treatments that have fewer debilitating side effects. Only research can find the treatments and cures that will allow other families to never know the kind of loss we feel without Brandon in our lives. His Foundation's Request for Proposals was sent to researchers in February and many proposal submissions arrived by the March 27 deadline. Next week we begin sending these proposals out for "blind" reviewers by experts in the field of head and neck cancer. An announcement of the 2015 grant awards is to be made June 2, 2015 - the third anniversary of the date of Brandon's death.

PLEASE help us fund the research that will put an end to head and neck cancer. DONATE now so Brandon's Foundation may expand the number and amount of grant funding available for promising research projects. And the next time you sit down for a meal - the next time you enjoy the aromas and flavors of your food, the next time your mouth is moist enough and your throat is undamaged so that you don't have to even think about swallowing and easily passing food from your mouth down your throat to your stomach - think about Brandon and all those who are or have been on the head and neck cancer journey with him.

 

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Ceremonial Grant Award Check Presented to UC Researchers

This year Brandon's Foundation awarded its first research grants. During the December 4th Happy Hour at The Phoenix in downtown Cincinnati, the researchers who submitted one of the two research proposals awarded the foundation's first grant awards were presented with a ceremonial award check. Receiving the ceremonial $15,000 check to investigate "A Comprehensive Study of Common Mutations in Sinonasal Cancer" were Scott Langevin, PhD, MHA and otolaryngologist Keith Casper, MD, from the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine/UC Cancer Institute. Dr. Langevin said he and assistants planned to begin DNA extraction from sinonasal cancer tumors before the end of 2014. They will then move on to the task of looking for mutations in the extracted DNA.  

Unable to attend the ceremony was Stephen Y. Lai, MD, PhD, FACS of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who submitted the research proposal "MiR-27a* Targets Critical Signaling Pathways in HNSCC (head and neck squamous cell carcinoma)." Dr. Lai was awarded a $10,000 grant by Brandon's Foundation. 

Details of the grant-winning research projects and the grant proposal process used by Brandon's Foundation were included in a previous blog post. Hearing from researcher after researcher who submitted a proposal about the lack of funding for head and neck cancer research was the most profound aspects of the the grant award process. Questions and comments are welcome as the Board of Directors moves forward, revises the process and awards more grant funding for head and neck cancers in 2015. 

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Holiday Jewelry Shopping Helps Brandon's Founation

Posted on: December 1, 2014 12:00 am
Tags: Brandon's foundation, Schwartz jewelers, Holiday shopping, Head and neck cancer

Seeking the perfect holiday gift? Thinking of popping the question within the next few months? During December 2014 - Now through New Year's Eve - Schwartz Jewelers will donate 25% of the profits from any purchase made in the name of Brandon's Foundation! It is also possible to order online or by phone - 513-541-5627.

Schwartz Jewelers is located at 6114 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224 in the College Hill neighborhood. Just ask for Dave or Sandy and mention the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation. They will do the rest!

Please help Brandon's Foundation raise funds for research to fight head and neck cancer while you're crossing items off your shopping list! 

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Act NOW for Rusty Ball 2014 Tickets

Posted on: October 16, 2014 3:00 pm
Tags: Head and neck cancer, Research, Rusty ball, The national exemplar

If you are planning to purchase tickets naming Brandon's Foundation as beneficiary for the Rusty Ball 2014 to be November 8, please purchase tickets by next Monday, October 20! Brandon's Foundation earns an amount (after costs) per ticket purchased naming his Foundation as beneficiary; however, the number of tickets purchased by early next week will determine the number of auction items his Foundation may submit. For every 10 tickets purchased by the auction submission deadline next week, Brandon's Foundation may submit an additional auction item. Unlike ticket purchase, the foundation receives all of the proceeds associated with the auction items it submits.

Tickets are available through the Rusty Ball ticket page. Simply click on attached link, choose the level of tickets you would like to purchase and hit Buy Tickets. On the next page, scroll to the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation, insert the number of tickets you'd like to purchase, and then scroll to the bottom and click Reserve Selected Tickets. After that, follow page directions! 

And Cincinnati's biggest fundraising party just got bigger since the Rusty Ball has now announced that pop singer Taylor Dayne will be their special guest on stage November 8!

As a "thank you" for purchasing tickets to this years Rusty Ball and naming Brandon's Foundation as beneficiary, The National Exemplar announced that those presenting 2014 Rusty Ball tickets will receive $10 off two dinner entrees purchased in the restaurant, plus it will donate the net proceeds from your dinner(s) to the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation during the entire month of November 2014!

Thank you again for helping Brandon's Foundation end head and neck cancers through research! 

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Thank you to FAB 4 A CURE Participants!

Posted on: September 10, 2014 7:00 am
Tags: Fab 4 a cure, Head and neck cancer, Research, The beatles

Thank you to all who did Come Together on August 27, 2014 at the 20th Century Theater (Cincinnati's Oakley neighborhood) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the August 27, 1964 Beatles concert at Cincinnati Gardens. Everyone had a Fab time while also raising research funds to find cures for head and neck cancers! Festivities began at 3 p.m. when author Ken Womack shared information about the Beatles 1964 USA tour. He spoke again after the Cincinnati premiere of Good Ol' Freda, a documentary about Freda Kelly, the Beatles secretary for 10 years - a job offered to her when she was 17 years old. The film is a fascinating look at Beatlemania during the 1960s. Scott Langevin, PhD, and Keith Casper, MD, from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and awardees of the Foundation’s first research grant, explained their research project and spoke about head and neck cancer.

Cincinnati band Glory Days got the theater rocking and attendees dancing with live music from the Beatles and other 60s’ British invaders. Between Glory Days and The Remains, former WSAI "Good Guy" Dusty Rhodes, who many consider THE Beatles DJ in Cincinnati during the 60s, shared his remembrances of how the WSAI Good Guys’ team brought the Beatles to Cincinnati in 1964. While he was on stage, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, a St. Xavier High School classmate of Brandon's, joined him and issued a proclamation regarding the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles concert at Cincinnati Gardens, which he presented to Dusty Rhodes. Then The Remains took the stage until 11 p.m. and one truly felt back in time and at the Beatles concert.

During all the activity inside the theater, a silent auction was occurring out in the lobby. Thank you to all who donated items and to those who bid and won!

Event headliners Ken Womack, Dusty Rhodes, Mayor John Cranley, Drs. Langevin and Casper, and the amazing members of Glory Days and The Remains deserve a very special Thank You for making the evening such a success. Thanks also the staff of the 20th Century Theater – and to WLWT5 for the TV coverage!

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FAB 4 A CURE - Q & A

Cincinnati’s biggest 50th Anniversary Celebration of the August 27, 1964 Beatles concert at Cincinnati Gardens and all things Beatlemania happens in only two days - Wednesday August 27, 2014 at Oakley’s 20th Century Theater!

Party like it’s 1964 AND help fund research to end head and neck cancer! 

Questions? 

Q: What should I do if I have trouble purchasing tickets at CincyTicket?

A: Call the CincyTicket number at 888-428-7311. If no one answers the phone, leave a voice mail and your call will be returned as soon as possible.

 

Q: What if I’m not sure if I can go until the day of FAB 4 A CURE?

A: Tickets may be purchased at the door IF any remain. To check the availability of tickets the day of the event, call 513-325-2550 Wednesday, August 27, 2014. (Prior to August 27, call CincyTicket at the number above.)

 

Q: What if I can’t get to FAB 4 A CURE when it begins at 3:00 p.m.? May I go only for the evening, since I have to work next Wednesday, August 27, 2014?

A: Of course! Go whenever you’re able to get there! Your ticket is good for the entire program, but many attendees are coming only for the evening because of work schedules. Even if you can’t get there until the evening, you’ll be there for plenty of live music, behind-the-scenes details about the Beatles 1964 USA summer tour, Tarot readings, and silent auction and raffle action!

See the schedule of events and click links to learn more about author Ken Womack, the Good Ol’ Freda documentary, former WSAI Good Guy Dusty Rhodes, and bands The Remains and Glory Days. Also, check the Foundation’s Facebook page for updates. 

 

Q: Will my friends and I feel isolated if we purchase Balcony seats?

A: No! In many ways, you’ll have some of the best seats in the theater! Also, there is a bar and bar tables with seating, a restroom, and a conversation area on the balcony floor behind the seating.

 

Q: What time is valet parking available? I plan to be there for the afternoon as well as evening. Will valet parking be available the entire day and evening?

A: Yes! Valet parking will be available before 3:00 p.m. and through the entire event. (Ticket purchase covers valet parking, but it does not include a gratuity.)

 

Q: How will the silent auction and raffle run?

A: When you check in at the Registration table, you will receive an envelope with color-coded wrist-band(s) (based on ticket type), a program of events that includes a list of auction and raffle items, AND a number that you should use if you choose to bid on silent auction items, place on raffle tickets or sign up for a Tarot card reading.

 

Q: How much of the price of the event ticket is considered tax deductible?

A: It varies depending on ticket level. However, scroll down at CincyTicket for information about the amount available for the different ticket levels.

 

Other Questions? Contact Us with additional questions!

See you this Wednesday, August 27th!

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FAB 4 A CURE

Come Together August 27, 2014 at the 20th Century Theater (Cincinnati's Oakley neighborhood) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the August 27, 1964 Beatles concert at Cincinnati Gardens. Have a Fab time while also raising research funds to find cures for head and neck cancers! Festivities begin at 3 p.m. with Ken Womack, an author of several books about the Beatles, who will discuss life on the road during the Beatles 1964 USA tour. The Cincinnati premiere of Good Ol' Freda follows. This documentary about Freda Kelly, the Beatles secretary for 10 years - a job offered to her when she was 17 years old - is a fascinating look at Beatlemania during the 1960s. Former WSAI "Good Guy" Dusty Rhodes, who many consider THE Beatles DJ in Cincinnati during the 60s, will emcee the evening activities, which includes lots of live Beatles and British Invasion tunes from two well-known Cincinnati bands! Glory Days starts playing at 6:30 p.m. The Remains take the stage at 8:30 p.m. and play until 11 p.m. (with a short break at 9:30 p.m.). In addition to the "onstage" events, there will also be a silent auction that includes Beatles memorabilia among many other items, raffle items, Tarot card readers, and more… For the FAB 4 A CURE schedule of events, go to the Upcoming Events page.

This is one event you won't want to miss! Purchase tickets online NOW at the CincyTicket site! 

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Schwartz Jewelers Event - June 1-10, 2014

Posted on: June 1, 2014 5:00 pm
Tags: Gromada, Foundation, Schwartz jewelers, Donation, Head and neck cancer, Research

Thinking of Graduation, Father’s Day, Birthdays or stocking up on early Christmas gifts? Purchase items at Schwartz Jewelers from June 1st through 10th and a third of the profit from your purchases will be donated to Brandon’s Foundation!  Schwartz Jewelers is located in the College Hill area and has been serving the greater Cincinnati area for more than 70 years. They carry jewelry of all types, including a large estate jewelry collection, watches, collectibles and giftware. Schwartz Jewelers also designs jewelry. (They created the dragonfly pendant in the photo, which Brandon’s mother received last June from his father to mark one year since Brandon’s death.)

Schwartz Jewelers is located at 6114 Hamilton Avenue, 45224. Phone (513) 541-5627 or email contactus@schwartzjewelers.net.

Their hours are: Monday-Wednesday & Friday: 9:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. • Thursday: 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. • Saturday: 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

You MUST ask for Dave, Marty or Andrea Schwartz and mention Brandon's Foundation if your purchase is to "count" toward their donation, which will help fund research to find cures for head and neck cancers.

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