A personal connection
By Russ Swansen, Board of Directors Chairperson
This is my last letter as Chairman of Children’s Cancer Research Fund. At the end of June, I will pass the gavel to Cindy Chandler. We are fortunate to have dedicated board members like Cindy. I look forward to her leadership as Chairwoman.
I have vacillated about whether to share a personal story in this letter but, in the end, decided that I would. I became a supporter of cancer research after my sister lost a long battle with Hodgkin’s disease. Her name was Janice, and she was diagnosed nearly 20 years ago when she was college age, not much older than my daughter. She was my youngest sibling and my only sister. Even at that time, survival rates were good for this disease; however, she was not one of the lucky ones. She underwent a bone marrow transplant after several other failed treatment attempts, but unfortunately had complications with graft-versus-host disease from which she did not recover. Significant advancements in treatment have been made over the last twenty years, and today she probably would have survived, which is why the work we support at Children’s Cancer Research Fund is so important.
And that work is leading to discoveries beyond cancer. There are nearly 7,000 different genetic diseases affecting more than 25 million Americans. Of these, more than 75 percent of cases affect children. The doctors at the University of Minnesota are dedicated to researching these diseases, which often either lead to cancer or use similar treatment therapies. Only a couple hundred have any effective treatment.
As my term as Chair comes to a close, I would like to thank John Hallberg for his commitment to and leadership as Chief Executive of this organization. There are many things that John could choose to do, and we are lucky that he has chosen to lead Children’s Cancer Research Fund. And for that I am grateful. Thank you, John.
I would also like to thank the board of directors for their dedicated leadership over the course of my term. I look forward to continuing our work together.