When she participated in the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) television fundraiser, Pam Cromwell got the chance to bask in the national spotlight.
SU2C is a collaboration uniting the major television networks, entertainment industry executives and celebrities, and prominent leaders in cancer research and patient advocacy in a major new initiative to move groundbreaking cancer research out of the lab and into the clinic.
Cromwell had the distinction of being the only cancer patient who joined celebrities during the presentation broadcast live from Los Angeles on Sept. 7.
Cromwell read a letter that she penned to the disease during the telecast.
“Dear Cancer, I’m not even quite sure why I started with the word dear. I think it’s a force of habit when starting a letter. Sometimes I don't even think you’re real. I can’t see you, but every day when I take a shower or comb my hair, I see all of the effects of you,” she wrote.
“I wanted to be the pretty one, the smart one, the successful one. Not the one who has cancer. Not the one who has an expiration date hanging over her head. Not the one with flawed skin, whose breasts are gone. Not the one who felt alone.”
“Well, cancer, this is what you didn’t see coming. I found a treatment team, a community, at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I’ve learned that it’s important to find a place that respects me for who I am and shows me that people will stick around no matter what. So dear cancer, I don’t know what my future will be, but I know that I will always be a fighter and I won’t be alone. No matter how hard you try, you will never take that away from me.”
Cromwell was empowered by the experience of participating in the SU2C fundraiser. Since she is still undergoing hormonal treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer, Cromwell shies away from being described as a cancer survivor. She finds it belittling to be called a survivor when she still in the midst of the struggle.
“The big thing about it that it was so empowering because people look at me and they assume that I was in remission and I’m not. I’m in the middle of the battle,” says Cromwell, who is 35.
“I think a lot of people were educated (about) the fact that you don’t have to look like you’re in your hospital bed. You don’t have to look weak. You can still be a strong individual and look your best while you’re fighting cancer. The one advantage that I have is that I identify with the people who are fighting right now.”
The Plainsville, N.J., resident routinely travels to Philadelphia to receive medical care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Cromwell was only 29, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that she only had six months to live. Six years later she is still thriving.
During the telecast, other cancer patients who shared their stories via video clips and demonstrated the impact of SU2C-funded research.
“The researchers and cancer survivors we met during the broadcast are heroes in the fight against cancer,” SU2C co-founder Ellen Ziffren said in a release.
“One man in two, and one woman in three in this country will eventually be diagnosed with some form of cancer. That’s why it’s so important that we join together to accelerate research that produces results.”
On September 10, the SU2C announced that more than $81 million was pledged to support research efforts.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research has partnered with SU2C recently announced a plan to jointly fund a Pediatric Cancer Dream Team.
Over the next four years, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises funds through its signature head-shaving events held worldwide and other fundraising activities, and SU2C will commit a total of $14.5 million to the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team. This is the first SU2C Dream Team focused solely on pediatric cancer research since SU2C was launched in 2008. The pairing of the organizations brings together two of the world’s leading cancer research fundraising groups in a unified mission to accelerate the development of new methods to treat pediatric cancers.
Since its launch in 2008, in conjunction with the first telecast, SU2C has raised more than $109 million for cancer research, funding seven interdisciplinary Dream Teams and 26 Innovative Research Grant (IRG) recipients that brought together more than 336 scientists from more than 65 leading institutions.