DR. otis brawley addresses the state of cancer and it's treatment at UIC.

Dr. Otis Brawley and Dr. Robert Winn. Photo by UIC.

Dr. Otis Brawley and Dr. Robert Winn. Photo by UIC.

August 28, 2019, University of Illinois Cancer Center’s Distinguished Lecture Series continued with Dr. Otis Brawley, the former head of the American Cancer Society. Now the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University he discussed how cancer can be controlled in the 21st Century. He started his talk by tracing cancer from it’s first first written reference to current innovations. During his presentation, Brawley examined the benefits and detriments of cancer screenings, and reflected on the ever-evolving cancer field; mortality trends; economics of healthcare and the future of healthcare. He also discussed race and disparities, among other topics. One of the biggest takeaways from his lecture was the statistic that a person’s level of education was a big factor in surviving cancer. A better education leads to better employment and increases the availability of better healthcare.

UIC CANCER RESEARCH LABORATORY TOUR

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Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

August 14, 2019, the Patient Brigade was given an amazing opportunity to visit the laboratory where basic medical research is performed as part of the University of Illinois Cancer Center at their Chicago campus. As part of the UIC “bench to community” model, the lab tour was a chance for the researchers to interact with members of the community who actually benefit from the end product of their research. The majority of the research they perform is the basic science that needs to be completed and evaluated long before their work is incorporated in clinical trials. Most people see clinical trials as the beginning of a cure but never see the decade of basic medical research that it took to get to an actual trial. That why researchers have to be dedicated and motivated to stay the course. And Dr. Jan Ketajewski and his fellow researchers are just that, dedicated and motivated. The tour of the laboratory, explanations on different lab equipment and talking about current projects showed the sense of pride the researchers had in their work.

As for the Patient Brigade, curiosity was at a all-time high. Just like the researchers, brigade advocates were just as dedicated and motivated. With most being cancer survivors they had many specific questions on how the research directly related to their cancers and what it could mean to future cancer treatments. Advocates learned about the long process to developing treatments and tantalizing new possibilities for the future. The interchange of questions and stories flowed in both directions as each group discovered new insights into the others point of view. The synergy created indicates this will not be the last exchange of ideas between “bench and community.

DR. KITAJEWSKI BRIEFS THE PATIENT BRIGADE ON HIS CANCER RESEARCH

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Photo courtesy of Courtney Colvin, University of Illinois.

In March, the Patient Brigade had it’s first meeting of the year. The brigade had the opportunity to get an introduction to cancer research from someone on the frontlines of that research. Dr. Jan Kitajewski is the associate director of Basic Science at the UI Cancer Center. Dr. K, as many students call him, gave us the highlights of his innovative breast cancer research. One of the main areas of his studies focuses on finding treatments that block cancer cell growth by impending the blood vessels that feed cancer cells. His latest project should be of interest to African Americans because the Duffy gene he is studying is found in two-thirds of the African American community. In the Duffy Project, Dr. Kitajewski’s lab is examining whether a Duffy mutation harms or helps cancer cells. This could help in the discovery of a different cancer treatment. Dr. K promised another visit to talk about the Duffy Project.

Rush University Medical Center 2019 donation

Rush University Medical Center 2017

Rush University Medical Center 2017

Rush University Medical Center 2019

Rush University Medical Center 2019

Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

Time certainly seems to be flying by! It was in the year 2017 that the Timothy Francis Jones Foundation made it’s very first grant for cancer research. It seemed only proper that the first grant should be to the institution that did so much for Tim during his battle with kidney cancer. That institution was Rush University Medical Center’s Cancer Center on Chicago’s westside. At that impromptu ceremony, we presented Dr. Nicklas Pfanzelter, Tim’s oncologist at Rush, with a check for cancer research. Dr. Pfanzelter has since moved on but the great work at Rush Medical Center continues. On July 31, 2019, the foundation was able to make another contribution to Rush University Medical Center. This is the third consecutive year we have made this particular donation which was totally generated by our supporters. The check for $5,000 was presented by Bernadette & Edward Jones and Rich Lomax. Accepting for the medical center was Eunsil Hahm, PhD, Mehmet Altintas, PhD & Megan Kono.

After a working lunch we received a special treat. Our group was conducted on a tour of Rush’s Nephrology research laboratory. In these labs, researchers perform the basic science down to the molecular level on kidney disease. The laboratory team of Dr. Hahm is focused on understanding the chronic kidney disease (CKD) process, its etiology, pathology, and molecular mechanisms. Her work in conjunction with Dr. Jochen Reiser’s suPAR research could produce a game changing development in early detection and treatment of a variety of illnesses covered under the umbrella of kidney disease. With this early indicator of kidney disease being discovered, now comes the research to find safe and practical applications to prevent and treat the disease.

In Tim’s case, his renal cancer was not detected until it had reached Stage IV. This is a typical scenario for this disease since symptoms can be subtle and often misdiagnosed until the disease reaches its later stages. It is our hope that this research can be used in a two-pronged attack on kidney disease through the use of early detection and improved outcomes through innovative treatments.

Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

16th annual silver room block party

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Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

July 20, 2019 was one of the hottest days of the year but the temperature didn’t affect the turnout for Hyde Park’s 16th Annual Silver Room Block Party. It’s one thing to see a news report about the Block Party or have someone try to relate the experience to you but there’s only one way to take in the event. That’s being there in person at ground level in the midst of the crowd. And that’s exactly what the Timothy Francis Jones Foundation did this year. Thanks to the Silver Room’s Eric Williams invitation, the foundation had a spot at one of Hyde Park’s premier events. After loading in and setting up our booth, friends and family prepared to beat the heat and push the foundation’s message out to as many people as we could meet.

The festival started promptly at noon with a variety of musical and cultural performances geared to the many families and tourists who frequented the sea of stalls that lined 53rd and the intersecting streets from Lake Park Ave. on the east to Dorchester Ave. on the west. The stalls featured everything from apparel and art to food and drink. From our vantage point in front of the Promontory, we could see people using the skating rink set up in the bank parking lot. We were able to network with other organizations that were present. We spoke to supporters that we only knew through social media. We renewed acquaintances with supporters we deal with regularly. Most importantly, we were able to listening to people who shared stories of how disease had affected their lives and tell them about our foundation’s message of proactive men’s health.

While a brief rainstorm brought a short respite from the heat, it also encouraged more people to come out to the event. By nightfall, the stage was rocking full speed ahead. As we started to run out of merchandise and energy, it was decided that we should pack up for the night. A sixteen hour endurance race in those temperatures was tough but everyone we met made it worthwhile. The foundation had a good day selling merchandise and an even better day getting our message out to the public. Thank you to Eric Williams, Silver Room Block Party participants and all our friends, old and new, who stopped by to show support and capped off a successful weekend. We’ll see you next year!

Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

University of Illinois Cancer Center 2019 donation

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Photo courtesy of UIC & TFJ Foundation.

For the third consecutive year, the Timothy Francis Jones Foundation has been able to make donations to organizations that are making strides in cancer research and healthcare disparities. One of the organizations that has loomed large in our foundation’s short history has been the University of Illinois Cancer Center. Ever since we heard Dr. Robert Winn speak to a small audience in a westside alderman’s office, we knew our mission was the correct one and our direction was set. Just as they guided Tim through their clinical trial, their guidance has helped us come to an understanding of what the foundation’s role in medical advocacy should be.

On July 25, 2019, it was our honor to present UIC Cancer Center with a check in the amount of $5,000 for cancer research. In attendance for the university were Dr. Robert Winn and Dr. Karriem Watson. The foundation was represented by Rich Lomax and Bernadette and Edward Jones. Brainstorming over lunch, each side discussed strategies to maximize our efforts to meet mutual goals. Among those goals were the best use of your donations to cancer research and increasing cross-over participation in activities that will highlight areas such as engagement between research and community, awareness on healthcare disparities and promoting proactive participation in healthcare by those most in need.

As many of you know, one of Tim’s wishes was to give comfort to those suffering as he did during his battle with cancer. This wish gave birth to the foundation and consequently our mission to educate men about the need to proactively use healthcare to prevent negative outcomes. Thanks to the contributions of volunteers, partners and your donations and purchases, this donation was possible. With your continued support, we will do even more to make Tim’s wish a reality.

SNEAKER FEAST 2019

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The Timothy Francis Jones Foundation continued to expand its community outreach efforts on July 19, 2019. Thanks to a gracious invitation from Lavelle Sykes of SuccezZ The Store, the foundation was able to attend SuccezZ Sneaker Feast 2019. The event was held in Chicago at the Revel Motor Row complex located at 2400 S. Michigan Ave. which includes the building which was formerly occupied by the historic Chicago Defender newspaper. The dynamic venue opened its doors at 3:00 PM to all age groups. The building featured a central, open-air courtyard with refreshments and seating. The courtyard was surrounded by glassed-in galleries which contained live artistic performances, music provided by area DJ’s and vendors selling apparel and, of course, sneakers!

The afternoon offered us a great opportunity to share our message of proactive healthcare for men and especially men of color with the public. We had a chance to speak with people from throughout the tri-state area and even one family on vacation from Norway. This encounter was so gratifying for two reasons. First was the coincidence that Tromsø, Norway was the first place outside the United States that Tim performed during an engagement with Teen Street Chicago in the 90’s. The second point was that the father and his two young sons grasped our message implicating that our message could resonate globally not just locally. We also made several connections to folks involved with organizations interested in collaborations to further our community outreach opportunities.

At 7:00 PM the event transitioned to the 21 years and older crowd. With that change came a fresh wave of our target audience, young men of color. Interacting with the crowds really helped us hone our message and improve its delivery. We also had a chance to meet and greet many existing friends and supporters such as Terri Evans, Mustafa Rocks and DJ Word.

As the ten o’clock hour approached, we packed our wares and made room for the serious party that followed. From all reports, everyone who attended the follow-on party had an awesome time capping off a day that was a blow out success! Our thanks go out to Lavelle and La La of SuccezZ for giving us the opportunity to participate, to the Revel Motor Row staff for their assistance and to everyone who stopped by to talk with us and shared their stories.

Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

Black Culture Week, the HBCU softball tournament & the TFJ foundation

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Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

On June 29, we were able to connect with T. J. Crawford and Black Culture Week at the south side’s beautiful Rainbow Beach Park. You may ask what is “Black Culture Week”? I believe their website describes it best.

“Black Culture Week is a time for the world to gather in unison to celebrate and commemorate Black Culture. It is also a time for people everywhere to intentionally collaborate and create new contributions to the culture.

From June 15th to June 23rd, ALL people, communities, corporations, organizations, and otherwise are invited to either produce or participate in some type of program dedicated to Black Culture.”

This year Black culture week featured a three-day wellness seminar focused on “how to successfully engage, heal and educate children and families who suffer from complex trauma”. During the seminar participants learned to recognize the signs of trauma and how to use various coping mechanisms to deal with the effects of that trauma. Many in the community maintain that just the strain of living in underserved conditions adversely contributes to an individual’s mental health (PTSD) and creates a domino effect in their physical well-being. Mental health awareness is trending upward in the black community as celebrities such as Common, Jay Z and Kanye West relate their experiences with mental wellness thus helping to dispel some of the cultural stigma around mental health.

The week was to conclude with the Black Culture Wellness Fest on June 22 but was postponed to the following Saturday. The delay did little to dampen the spirits of those who attended. The featured event was the 8th Annual HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Softball Tournament. Alumni, who bridged 50 years, represented a wide variety of HBCU’s such as Howard University, Jackson State University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Tuskegee University. The family-oriented fest featured food, networking and music hosted by WGCI’s Leon Rodgers. The crowds were receptive to the foundation’s message of proactive men’s healthcare and often related their own experiences with the lack of health awareness among men.

The Timothy Francis Jones Foundation truly enjoyed engaging with the community, all the HBCU alum and the other organizations who participated. We look forward to next year’s event and will keep you informed of our future activities.

Video by Jackson State Univ. Alumni.

Cancer Impacts All of Us: A Conversation With Survivors

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Photos courtesy of TFJ Foundation.

A meeting of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (CCHEC) took place on June 1, 2019 at the University of Illinois at Chicago to mark National Cancer Survivors Day. Every first Sunday in June was designated National Cancer Survivors Day in 1987 to recognize those living with cancer and the people who support them. The event was spearheaded by Phyllis Rodgers of Peer Plus Education and Training Advocates and was attended by members of varied groups such as, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the Blue Hat Foundation, and Janssen Research and Development as well as the Timothy Francis Jones Foundation. All of these groups partner together with the CCHEC to bring community input into medical and cancer specific issues affecting underserved communities.

The gathering had a panel which consisted of Beverly Rogers, Angela Williams, Kennedy Parker, William Scott, Charlene Abrams and the director of U. of I.’s Cancer Survivorship Program, Dr. Susan Hong. All are cancer survivors and/or experts on cancer survival and research. The discussion was moderated by our friend, Dr. Karriem Watson of the University of Illinois Cancer Center. The discussion took on the feel of a family talking at their kitchen table as the panel, the audience and experts told their stories. Many of the lessons learned were exchanged and issues were identified in order to present them to authorities in medicine and politics. We’ll keep you posted on upcoming meetings and results. Please feel free to submit questions or suggestions on cancer issues that affect you. Send them to tfjfoundation@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to get an answer for you.

ADLER UNIVERSITY 2019 DONATION

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Photos courtesy of Norton Advertising and TFJ Foundation.

The Timothy Francis Jones Foundation made it’s first grant of 2019! This was the first grant from the foundation to Adler University, an accredited non-profit university. Adler trains it’s students in the field of mental health in accordance with their founder’s belief that their vocation should benefit the community. To that end, they require their students to apply what they have learned in real life situations through community service. Through Adler University, the students inject mental healthcare into existing organizations outreach efforts in underserved communities. Examples of those problems include social justice issues, re-integration of released inmates and counseling to victims of trauma. Some of the organizations that benefit from this work include Circuit Court of Cook County’s Juvenile & Child Protection Dept., St. Leonard’s Ministries, and Near North Health Services Corporation. All of these services are provided through donations or sponsorships.

The $5,000 grant is slated to support their Complex High Admission Management Program (CHAMP). This program focuses on patients with a high reoccurrence of hospital admissions. The CHAMP team working with patients develop individualized care plans and provide ongoing consultation to shorten the length of hospital stays and reduce the need for additional hospital readmissions.

The event took place at Adler University’s downtown Chicago campus on June 12, 2019. Those in attendance for the foundation were Ed and Bernadette Jones, PJ Jones, Jay Davis and Rich Lomax. Accepting the donation for the university were Mary Jo Lamparski, Heather Schuster, executive director Kevin Osten-Garner and President Raymond Crossman.

The presentation was followed by a working luncheon. Our groups discussed each other’s future projects and possible future collaborations.