If a cancer diagnosis has taught Norman Todd and his wife Ladonna one thing, it’s that life goes on and you might as well live it to the fullest. In 2015, shortly before Ladonna had the upper-left lobe of her lung removed due to cancer, Norman was diagnosed with rectal cancer. More than 45 treatments later, he’s feeling good—and more appreciative than ever of everyday life. The couple spends about half their time at the Evening Star Campground near Topeka, Illinois, and Norman says he’s enjoying their time together there even more these days.
He’s also hoping to play a role in helping future patients discover that same quality of life by taking part in a Foundation-funded clinical trial. Participants are testing a chemotherapy drug that may eliminate the need for radiation prior to surgery—which could help reduce side effects and get patients into the operating room faster. “I appreciate all that the people who went before me did to help develop new treatments, and I want to do what I can to help someone else in the future.”
Norman Todd May 8, 2017
Asked which is tougher, war or cancer, U.S. Navy veteran Millard Diseker doesn’t hesitate. “Cancer is bad, but war is worse. This is a different kind of fight.”
It’s a battle he’s been waging for some time now. Diagnosed with prostate and colon cancer eight years ago, Millard underwent treatment and spent seven years cancer-free. But the disease returned, and now he’s in the midst of a two-year chemotherapy program. Despite side effects like fatigue, insomnia, mood swings and hot flashes, Millard remains positive about his treatment— a new drug combination that’s part of a Foundation-funded clinical trial aimingto increase prostate cancer survival rates—and his future.
Cancer took Millard’s first wife, Paula, three years ago, but he’s been fortunate to find love again with his fiancée, Carol, and the two hope to get married in the spring. He credits the team at Illinois CancerCare for standing shoulder to shoulder with him throughout his fight. “They’re fabulous people. From the lab, to the pharmacy, to the treatment pod, everyone here is so kind-hearted. They always have your six.”
Since 1979, nearly 10,000 cancer patients have participated in more than 1,400 clinical trials through Illinois CancerCare, many funded in part by your contributions to the Foundation. Unlike bench research, which is conducted in a lab with test tubes and animals, clinical trials are applied research using human subjects—essential in advancing cutting-edge care and offered comfortably close to home.
Millard Diseker May 8, 2017
When you consider all the things you’d like to pass on to your children, cancer certainly doesn’t make the list. But given her family’s history, Ann Best knew it was a possibility. Ann, her mother and her sister are all survivors, and she’s lost several aunts and cousins to the disease.
After much deliberation, Ann underwent genetic testing. Since then, two of her siblings and several of her nieces and nephews have done the same. She’s hoping her two sons will undergo testing soon.
Family members have received a mix of positive and negative results, but whatever the outcome, Ann’s convinced it’s better to be proactive than reactive. “There’s so much anxiety when you think about how this knowledge might affect your kids. But the more you know, the better equipped you are to deal with it.”
Knowing the important role the Foundation plays in helping promote and advance testing locally, Ann remains a vocal advocate, serving as a volunteer, donor and board member. “For my kids, I want to see really good research continue right here. The Foundation helps keep Illinois CancerCare on the cutting edge of treatments and therapies.”
The Foundation supports genetic screening programs to identify hereditary cancers, with special emphasis on families at risk for colorectal and breast cancer. Your contributions help those in need receive financial assistance for tumor sequencing—and empower people to understand their risks and make informed decisions about their futures.
Ann Best May 8, 2017
During her long career in rehabilitation, Sue Paul was convinced she and her fellow therapists were doing all they could for people with cancer. It wasn’t until she was diagnosed herself that she realized how much more was possible.
At the time of her breast cancer diagnosis, Sue served as rehabilitation director for the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (IPMR). Her treatment caused a number of weakness and balance issues, a common side effect of chemotherapy. “It opened my eyes to the fact that we could be doing more to treat cancer patients holistically. Therapists have a role to play in helping them get the rest of their lives back.”
That realization led Sue to launch a research project in 2015 focused on balance, funded by a Foundation grant. Still ongoing, the study explores where and why balance issues occur, as well as how and when to target treatment. “The Foundation is ahead of the curve in funding projects like this. They care about quality of life issues, and they’re willing to reach out and grab the expertise of others in our community.”
That’s why Sue, now a compliance officer for Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics, continues to support the Foundation any way she can—as a volunteer, donor, advisory board member and event participant. “Knowledge is power, and we get that knowledge by supporting the Foundation.”
Sue Paul May 8, 2017
At 75, Roger Nuhn of Glasford is a relative newlywed. When he and Bonnie married five years ago, he joined a close-knit family—two daughters, five granddaughters and two great-grandsons (and another great-grandchild on the way). They all rallied around him when he started treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia in the winter of 2014.
So did his Illinois CancerCare family. Presented with the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, Roger debated it, then decided, “What have I got to lose?” The answer: Nothing. He’s not only responding well to treatment—which he’s not sure he could have afforded on his own—but he’s also recovered the energy to do the things he loves. “I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without this treatment. Now, I feel like doing stuff again.” That includes plans to head to Florida with Bonnie to escape the coming winter.
Cutting-edge cancer treatments offered in our patients’ hometowns. Through the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), Illinois CancerCare shares in $2.5 million of annual funding for National Cancer Institute clinical trials. Patient costs for trials exceed that amount, however, resulting in a significant budget shortfall. The Foundation fills that gap—committing up to $400,000 per year for the next four years to help ensure local patients receive the quality care they deserve, close to home.
Roger Nuhn May 8, 2017
When he hit 237 pounds and found himself out of breath after climbing the stairs, Calvin Pettitt of Peoria decided it was time to take action. He bought some workout clothes and shoes, and then started walking regularly on the track next to Bradley University’s Shea Stadium. The weight started dropping fast—too fast. It was kidney cancer. “My grandfather and my mom both died of cancer. I thought it was a death sentence.”
With God, his extended family and the team at Illinois CancerCare by his side, Calvin proved it’s not. He had his kidney removed, joined a clinical trial and now feels good enough to start taking laps around the track once more. “I prayed a lot. I told God I just wanted to see my children and grandchildren progress a bit more before I leave this earth.”
Calvin Pettitt May 8, 2017
Over the past three years, Jody Scott of Morton has battled cancer in multiple forms, but she’s never let it get her down—not with husband Greg, daughter Devan and cats Owen and Juno surrounding her with love and support. And when times were tough around the holidays, volunteers from the Foundation’s Trust in Hope program made her life a bit easier. “I was just beside myself when they came and brought a full Thanksgiving meal. They touched my soul.”
With recent scans indicating she’s cancer-free, Jody credits family, faith and everyone at Illinois CancerCare with her recovery. “These people are meant to be doing what they’re doing. I love them all. I always say it’s like hugging angels.”
Jody Scott May 8, 2017