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IMG_2884My friend Norm Crawford first told me about the Women’s Cancer Research Foundation. I was impressed with an innovative cancer research group where the research physicians actually underwrite the foundation’s staff expenses in order to have 90% of monies raised available for research. Plus, when I found that the FDA labeling for a new cancer drug was changed because of a new WCRF paper, I was truly impressed.

So, when Norm invited me to the Women’s Research Cancer Foundation’s seventh annual benefit, “Flight for the Cure,” at the Lyon Air Museum adjacent to John Wayne Airport, I came willingly, joining 150 other guests enjoying the amazing collection of vintage aircraft, cars, motorcycles, and trucks as the Rusty Gillette Band played ’30s, ’40s and ’50s favorites.

“Captain” John Bonosoro, a former pilot in the U.S. Marines and brother to WCRF’s Executive Director Janet Rae, was event master of ceremonies, and foundation staff and volunteers, serving as the flight crew, greeted guests and encouraged them to purchase raffle tickets and peruse the silent auction.

WCRF founder and board chair Dr. John Paul Micha shared the foundation’s mission since its founding in Newport Beach in 2006. “We study new cancer drugs and design and run trials to find out if a new drug improves cure rates,” he said. “Each year, each WCRF doctor publishes about 3.5 peer review articles versus an average of one paper per doctor at M.D. Anderson, Sloan Kettering or Cedars-Sinai. So, our model really works. Patients appreciate the access to new treatments, and the doctors love the extremely efficient way that WCRF gives them to answer key clinical research questions.”

Micha, who shared that his nurse mother influenced his decision to become a doctor and losing her to brain metastasis from uterine cancer only increased his interest in gynecologic oncology, lauded the foundation board members, doctors, nurses, and researchers, “who give our patients hope,” he said. Micha presented three awards to “WCRF heroes,” as he called them. Foundation board member Jack Evans and his late wife Jeanette and their family were presented the Rebecca Jefferies Award for their passion in finding new cures, WCRF President Mark Schley of Schley Tools dune buggy fame was recognized for introducing WCRF to the international car world, and actress/entertainer and cancer survivor Connie Needham, who recently won a “Dance for the Cure” contest to give WCRF $10,000, was honored for her tireless dedication for the cause.

To have built the busiest gynecological oncology practice on the West Coast and developed the best research model says volumes about this amazing doctor/research team, which includes Drs. Micha, Mark Rettenmaier, John Brown, Alberto Mendivil, Lisa Abaid, John Link, and Bram Goldstein. To that end, the effort netted an impressive $212,000 for innovative cancer research.