The Colors of Cancer and The American Cancer Society

MD-Colors of cancer fundraiser_2x

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Hometown Heroes Fundraiser honoree Dr. Roberta Lilly (in pink) with her parents Stanley and Viola Stekel and daughter Grace Lilly.

OXFORD — “I didn’t know my cancer had a color,” says Maureen Scott Taylor, honorary chair of the Cancer fundraiser last Saturday night.

What?? What are the Colors of Cancer?

For five years, that’s the name the American Cancer Society has used for its Hometown Heroes Fundraiser on March 28 at the Tred Avon Yacht Club in Oxford. The colors of cancer are many, one for each kind of cancer, and represented by a snippet of colored ribbons shaped in a loop. Many people are aware of the color pink’s association with breast cancer, but many of us are learning about an orange loop for kidney cancer, a dark blue ribbon for colon cancer and many other hues for a multitude of cancers.

At the fundraiser, guests selected a color in support for a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or oneself. Who doesn’t know someone coping with cancer? The American Cancer Society predicts that in Maryland, more than 30,000 people will be newly diagnosed in 2015.

This year’s banquet honoree was Dr. Roberta Lilly, medical director of the Breast Center at UM Shore Regional Health. A surgeon and compassionate listener and advisor, she was recognized for her contributions to cancer patients. She gave the good news that in cancer care, the death rate for leading cancers has gone down.

Dr. Lilly believes that coordinating research and fundraising for all the cancers is the answer to advancing gene analysis which leads to extending successful therapies in one cancer type to another. In her speech, she said, “The more we look, the more we are seeing similarities between cancers from different organs. So it makes sense that we begin to coordinate our philanthropic efforts to match what’s going on in science.”

Dr. Lilly is also advocating for a change in lifestyles. She explains, “We have known for a long time that physical inactivity and adult weight gain increase our risk for many cancers.” She adds the startling fact that this year or next, obesity will replace tobacco as the leading modifiable risk factor for many cancers.

Dr. Lilly says, “I am a great believer in rebirth and renewal.“ Quoting author Deepak Chopra, she explained that at the level of atoms and molecules, you are constantly reinventing yourself. You have new skin once a month, a new skeleton, every three months, a new liver every six weeks, a process of constant change. “It’s never too late to make a change,” emphasizes Dr. Lilly.

The American Cancer Society Gala was a successful effort. The silent auction, raffles and ticket prices raised funds for research; Dr. Lilly raised awareness in the search for a better cancer-preventive lifestyle.

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