In 1985, compelled by the memory of her late father, Edward P. Richardson, who had died of cancer one year earlier, Carolyn Aldigé embarked on a mission. She founded the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, with the hope of sparing others from the pain and suffering caused by cancer. Aldigé believed firmly that an emphasis on prevention, not just treatment, could help decrease cancer deaths and incidence rates. Since then, through its research, education and outreach efforts, the Foundation has worked hard to spread the prevention message to the public, spurring ground-breaking research and new ways to reach captive audiences.
In the 1980s, upon starting the Foundation, Aldigé recalls, “Everyone was focused on the ‘magic bullet’ and everyone was focused on finding something that was going to cure cancer. And that’s what people thought was going to be the solution—a cure. Prevention was not in the mainstream. I think the attitude of most people was that cancer was a disease you were either going to get or you weren’t. There wasn’t anything you could do to keep yourself from getting it. The screening technologies were not nearly as good as they are now. We understood that it was a disease caused by genetic mutations, but we didn’t understand nearly as much as we do now about the science of how those mutations lead to cancer.”
Over the years the Foundation has invested millions to support cancer research to better understand the disease, funding many impressive discoveries. Aldigé has met dozens of researchers supported by the Foundation and followed their careers at leading medical institutions. Many researchers have approached Aldigé saying, “You gave me my first grant and here’s what I’ve done.” And some of them are now scientific superstars.
Hope for the Future
The climate within the cancer world has changed dramatically in recent years. In 2007, cancer deaths declined for the second straight year, with many experts crediting wider screening efforts for major cancers, such as colon, prostate and breast, as well as fewer smokers and better treatments. In addition, Americans are surviving cancer longer, as the five-year survival rate has risen from 53 percent to 66 percent, according to recent data.
This news is encouraging to Aldigé, a much sought-after speaker who travels around the world delivering messages of prevention that are increasingly popular in the public and in the media. “Cancer is a disease that can be prevented and there are many actions you can take to reduce your individual risk of developing cancer,” she says.
Even though almost one-half of all men and one-third of all women in the United States are at risk for developing cancer within their lifetime, preventive methods–including early detection, screening, a healthy diet and an exercise regimen–can make a difference. Coupled with improving technology and research, the Foundation is optimistic that cancer trends will continue to improve.
Aldigé encourages everyone to be aware of their health and follow simple guidelines that can help detect cancer in early stages. “The actions you take to prevent cancer can prevent a whole host of chronic diseases, not just one.”
Our Foundation’s future work will certainly help ensure that Carolyn Aldigé’s vision will have a long-lasting impact on cancer prevention for years to come.
- Awesome Games Done Quick raises an awesome $2.2 million, breaking the event fundraising record for the Foundation.
- The Foundation launches Think About the Link®, an education campaign about the link between certain viruses and cancer.
- The Foundation begins funding International Cancer Technology Transfer Fellowships through a partnership with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). This program focuses on the rapid transfer of knowledge and technology in cancer prevention and early detection.
- The Dialogue for Action® again expands its focus to include prevention for all cancers.
- Prevent Cancer Foundation® celebrates its 30th anniversary.
- The Foundation launches Check Your Mate, a social media campaign encouraging people to check their partners’ bodies for signs of breast, skin or testicular cancer. The campaign’s weekly Facebook impressions totaled 643,045.
- The 20th Annual Spring Gala raises $1.7 million. Overall this event raised more than 21 million in 20 years for cancer research and screening in under-served communities.
- The Foundation hosts Lung Cancer Workshop X, “Application of Quantitative CT Imaging to Lung Cancer Management: Accelerating Progress.” The 10th meeting in this annual series focuses on key uses of high quality, low-dose spiral CT scans as a lung cancer screening tool.
- The Dialogue for Action® becomes the Dialogue for Action® on Cancer Screening, expanding its focus beyond colorectal cancer screening alone.
- The Foundation begins a partnership with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation at the Iowa State Fair, enhancing its long-standing collaboration with John Stoddard Cancer Center, to reach residents of rural Iowa with cancer screening and prevention education.
- The Foundation reaches $130 million invested in research, education, outreach and advocacy funding.
- The Foundation creates the Screening Saves microsite and produces video Public Service Announcements.
- The Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary.
- The Foundation reaches $120 million in research, education and community outreach funding.
- The Foundation publishes the Prevent Cancer Foundation® Wellness Guide, which offers practical tips for a cancer-free future.
- Games Done Quick hosts its first “Awesome Games Done Quick” video game marathon to benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation®.
- Program funding reaches $113 million.
- The inaugural Step Away from Cancer™ 5K is held (later called the Prevent Cancer Health Fair and 5k Walk/Run).
- The Foundation partners with three other organizations to sponsor Breakaway from Cancer, part of the Amgen Tour of California.
- An American Indian/Alaska Native version of Guide to Preventable Cancers is produced.
- The Foundation commemorates the 100th Prevent Cancer Super Colon® national stop.
- The Foundation awards its first community grants.
- The Foundation enters social media space with Prostate Pete.
- The Foundation launches Breast Health Education Facilitator’s Guide and video.
- The Foundation coordinates the first American Indian/Alaska Native meeting on colorectal cancer screening.
- In partnership with the Step Up Women’s Network, the Foundation launches the Make the Connection national campaign to promote cervical cancer awareness.
- The Foundation provides $2.7 million in research funding.
- The Prevent Cancer Super Colon®, an inflatable, interactive intestine exhibit, takes to the road to educate Americans about colorectal cancer.
- Andrew J. Dannenberg authors a groundbreaking study that suggests women who take aspirin regularly can lower their risk of developing the most common type of breast cancer, and describes Foundation funding as instrumental in his discovery.
- The Check Your Insides Out: From Top to Bottom exhibit crosses the U.S., teaching Americans about cancer prevention and early detection.
- A second Lung Cancer Workshop is sponsored to explore the use of spiral CT scans to accelerate progress in development of new drugs for early-stage lung cancer.
- Bad Beat on Cancer, an annual Texas Hold’em Tournament to raise money for the Foundation, begins.
- The first-ever Cancer Prevention Survey confirming Americans believe that cancer can be prevented is conducted.
- The Foundation enters into a five-year, $1.5 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to bring the Dialogue for Action® on Colorectal Cancer Screening program to 14 states and 10 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations to promote colorectal cancer screening. An additional three states funded their own Dialogue projects.
- The Colossal Colon Tour launches to educate Americans about colorectal cancer prevention. The tour travels to 20 cities and features a four foot-tall, 40-foot-long replica of the human colon.
- The Foundation establishes a research endowment.
- The Foundations funds Leslie Bernstein’s first-ever study to provide biological evidence that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk.
- Foundation grant funding enables Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith at the University of California, Irvine to pioneer the use of laser and ultrasound to detect cancer.
- The Foundation Launches Project Early Awareness in partnership with Howard University to teach young African-American women about the importance of breast health.
- Congress designates March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a Presidential Proclamation authorizes the month of observance. The Foundation spearheads this effort.
- The Foundation holds the Millennium Lung Cancer Workshop to jump-start early lung cancer detection.
- The Foundation leads the way in promoting colorectal cancer screening when it holds its first national Dialogue for Action®, an interactive conference that subsequently draws an international audience.
- The Foundation provides $1.7 million for research projects.
- The Foundation helps organize the first Summit on Clinical Trials, helping to plan the future of clinical research.
- The Foundation launches its website at www.preventcancer.org.
- The Foundation funds Dr. Craig Slingluff’s research in the development of a vaccine against melanoma, which is later proven effective in clinical trials.
- The Mammovan, the Washington region’s first and only mobile mammography unit, makes its first appearance. The Mammovan was purchased with Foundation funding.
- The Foundation provides $1.2 million in research grants in this fiscal year.
- The Foundation launches ¡Celebremos la Vida! (Let’s Celebrate Life!), a breast and cervical cancer education and screening program for underserved Hispanic women.
- The first Annual Spring Gala held attracting guests from the business, diplomatic, government, medical, sports, media and social communities.
- The Foundation begins raising research funds through its Sporting Clays Invitational, welcoming 100 participants, including members of Congress.
- The Foundation teams up with Washington CBS-affiliate WUSA-TV9 to educate women about breast health through the program Buddy Check 9.
- Paul Talalay and Yueshang Zhang, Foundation-funded researchers at Johns Hopkins University, isolate sulfurophane, a cancer-preventive compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
- Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program is established through a partnership between the Prevent Cancer Foundaton® and the Congressional Club. The program is a bipartisan cancer prevention awareness effort.
- Foundation-funded researcher Dr. Craig Jordan conducts early research that leads to the development of tamoxifen, the first breast cancer chemopreventive drug.
- The Foundation provides $1.2 million in research support in this fiscal year.
- The Foundation establishes its first named research fellowship.
- The Foundation’s first public awareness campaign, “Your Cancer Risk,” is launched.
- The Foundation Board of Directors meets for the first time and funds the Foundation’s first cancer prevention research fellowship at $8,000.
- Carolyn Aldigé founds the Prevent Cancer Foundation® in memory of her father, Edward Perry Richardson, who died of cancer in 1984.