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A special message from Miriam Barry

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
From Miriam Barry, CBTF Board member and LIMA Charity Committee member, “You have heard me say many times that I never believed that I would see our work yield results in my lifetime, and yet I have been privileged to see this. The project that LIMA is supporting is something I never believed I would see.

My daughter Reina was treated at the same time as Jill Adlman, daughter of Bonnie, one of our Board members. Two girls, the same age, the same tumor. And yet Jill relapsed while on treatment, and not long after, died of her tumor. Reina went on to have a normal life, and remains tumor free, thank God. I remember Dr. Jeff Allen saying that both tumors looked the same under the microscope, but he strongly suspected that the DNA of the tumors was different. The problem was that study of the DNA of brain tumors was something that was on the horizon, but nothing that we would see any time soon. There were many obstacles to this work, money being only one of them.

In the ten years that followed Jill’s death, DNA studies were conducted on leukemia patients -- specifically children with ALL. The question that needed answering was why some kids relapse and others never do. Under the microscope, their cancers looked the same. The answer was found in the DNA, and it was called the Philadelphia chromosome. Kids with this chromosome had a much greater chance of relapse. Due to these studies, kids with the Philadelphia chromosome go straight to bone marrow transplant. Others get conventional chemotherapy. This discovery moved the cure rate for ALL from 70% to 90%. Not only a significant jump, but that meant that 20 more kids per 100 would survive their illnesses. A truly incredible accomplishment, especially to the families of those 20 kids per 100.

At CBTF, this has been my dream -- to answer the question of why Jill died and Reina lived. LIMA has made it possible to realize this dream, and lay the groundwork to get it started. Thanks to you, that date has arrived.

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