Rays of Hope: Walk & Run Toward a Cure

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The Rays of Hope Walk and Run toward the Cure of Breast Cancer will celebrate 25 years on October 21. Dr. Grace Makari-Judson of Suffield serves Rays of Hope as co- director with D. Joseph Jerry, UMass professor and scientist at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute.

Since 1994, Rays of Hope has been helping women and men in the fight against breast cancer by walking alongside them on their cancer journey. A joint initiative between researchers from Baystate Medical Center and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Insitute maintains its offices and laboratories within the Baystate campus.

Describing their goals, Dr. Makari-Judson said, “Our vision was an ambitious one and at the time the first for a research data base with information from consenting Baystate breast patients that would link personal histories to medical records and tissue samples to related clinical data.”

In June 2018, the Institute’s registry reached an enrollment of more than 1,000 patients. The registry is unique in providing diverse tissue samples that can be grown and studied for genetic variations. These help researchers answer such questions as why one patient’s cell line develops breast cancer when exposed to a certain chemical while another patient’s cell line does not. 

Participants in the registry may not benefit directly from it but their information in the data base allows for different types of clinical, scientific and applied research. Their participation will benefit those yet to be identified with breast cancer. “This is something for which all of those involved in creating and utilizing the registry are forever grateful,” Dr. Makari-Judson said.

Dr. Makari-Judson is the daughter of the late Dr. Jack Makari, an eminent oncologist who developed a skin test that detected cancer before it was clinically observable. Surviving Dr. Makari, his widow Wadad (Odette) lives at Suffield by the River. The couple had four children, all of whom are doctors. Three of the four Makari siblings are women working in cancer research. 

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