Our Funds

The Weathervane Foundation, Inc., a Texas Non-Profit Corporation, was founded in 2004 by Fran Padgett to aid in the support and funding for breast cancer research and awareness. Our fundraising efforts for 2010-2011 will support the following programs:

TISSUE SAMPLE ACQUISITION PROJECT (A component of research at Baylor College of Medicine)

The Eveline Lettau Memorial Research Fund was recently established with a $100,000 gift/pledge to the Baylor College of Medicine supporting the work of Drs. Adrian Lee and Alekesandar Milosavljevic of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, and The Human Genome Sequencing Center of Baylor. The Smith Breast Center and the Human Genome Sequencing Center are collaborating to genetically profile breast cancer. This collaboration will enable researchers to translate advances made in understanding how breast cancer works, as quickly as possible into improved patient care. Their research focuses on identifying the genes that are involved in breast cancer development and progression, and then translating the discoveries into improved diagnostic and treatment strategies.

In 2008, Baylor researchers led by Aleksandar Milosavljevic, Ph.D. compared the genome of a type of breast cancer with that of normal cells. They found 157 rearrangements that may degrade the cell’s regulatory system in cancer cells. These rearrangements are part of an altered genetic blueprint involving breaks and fusions of genes and a broken DNA repair machinery that can result in uncontrolled cell growth. This uncontrolled cell growth comprises an essential attribute of cancer. In the coming year, these researchers will continue their work to complete the molecular profiling of several different subtypes of breast cancer.

They also will be working to identify new treatments targets for breast cancer using gene knockdown of treatment resistant breast cancer.

Since its inception in 2004, The Weathervane Foundation has been a strong supporter and very involved in the local breast cancer community of patients and survivors. This involvement brought us to know and love Eveline Lettau, who lost her four year battle with breast cancer in January of 2009 at the age of 41, and the namesake of our research fund. Our relationship with this community has put us in a very unique position with over 50 breast cancer patients and survivors asking to provide their own tissue samples (both diseased and healthy tissue) and their medical records to the research of Drs. Lee and Milosavljevic, in part supported by the Eveline Lettau Memorial Research Fund. Although these patients and survivors are avid supporters of the cause (participation in many fundraising events such as the Komen Race for the Cure, the Avon Walk, etc.) this project allows them to be personally involved in “research for find the cause” by donating their very own tissue samples. We are currently working with Dr. Gustavo Ayala, M.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Pathology, and Head of Tissue Acquisition for Baylor, establishing the necessary guidelines and procedures for this portion of the project.

Dr. Adrian Lee, Ph.D., who received the Nancy Owens Memorial Award in 2008 for his research on predicting the benefits of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) targeted therapy in breast cancer, will continue this research in the coming year. There are several growth factors that are important in breast cancer: estrogen receptor (ER); human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) 1, 2, 3 and 4; insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGFIR); and others. By targeting certain receptors, some tumors can be treated. Dr. Lee is a world leader in studying IGFIR, which plays a pivotal role in tumor cell growth and survival. In his studies, Dr. Lee has demonstrated that some tumors in the laboratory can be killed by treatment that blocks IGFIR. However, not all tumors respond to this treatment. Currently 17 types of tumors do respond and seven do not. Dr. Lee’s goal is to develop a gene signature that predicts response or resistance in patients, enabling researchers to know whether a treatment will probably be successful or not. The next step in Dr. Lee’s research will involve confirming the gene signature and extending the results to treatment in patients.

The Eveline Lettau Memorial Research Fund is currently eligible for matching funds through the Genomics Research Program at Baylor College of Medicine.

RESOURCE LIBRARY PROJECT

The Weathervane Foundation plans to establish one or more “Resource Libraries” in Breast Care Centers or Women’s Health Centers that become an integral part of the facility, recommended to patients by staff, and utilized daily by breast cancer patients, and their family and friends.

Women and men, spouses and children, family and friends … these lives all change when the diagnosis is breast cancer. Physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other specialists, with all the latest medical equipment and advances in breast cancer treatments, will be responsible for the physical health of their patients. But in the midst of the cold, clinical, and metallic world of hospitals, we’d like for breast cancer patients to have a sanctuary … a small, cozy, “cocoon” …. a place to rest and relax … a place to soothe and calm … a place to gain knowledge. A place to learn more about a diagnosis just received; a place to learn how to tell the children. But more important, a place of comfort … a place of hope … a place to enliven the human spirit.

SUPPORT GROUP FOR STAGE IV BREAST CANCER PATIENTS

Stage IV breast cancer is invasive breast cancer that has spread to other organs of the body, usually the lungs, liver, bone and/or brain. Although many women continue to live long, productive lives with Stage IV breast cancer, it is considered advanced cancer with only a 20% five year relative survival rate. The support needed for these patients, families and caregivers differs greatly from the support for a less advanced breast cancer, and the support group facilitator must be specifically trained to offer the emotional support and advice needed by advanced cancer patients.

SCHOLARSHIP FUND FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR BREAST CARE NURSES

Weathervane will establish a scholarship fund to help provide continuing education classes for breast care nurses, allowing them to become MammaCare Specialists, certified to perform and teach manual breast examination, or Nurse Navigators, who are a support system for the patient and his/her family at a critical time – after diagnosis and throughout treatment.

HOW TO HELP

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