SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Oct. 20, 2021) – On the eve of its 25th anniversary, the Desert Mountain CARE community-wide giving program has reached $8.6 million in local donations to the Mayo Clinic of Arizona and HonorHealth Research Institute to fund world-class, breakthrough cancer research.
Through this program, Desert Mountain members work with doctors and medical researchers to hand-select the projects funded by CARE (Cancer Awareness through Research and Education).
Desert Mountain’s CARE was formed in March 1997: The original $25,000 donation was delivered to Mayo Clinic in a brown paper bag and dedicated exclusively to breast cancer research. Today, CARE’s funding focus has expanded to world-class research, prevention, and early detection and diagnosis of cancer in general.
“Thanks to the expanding arsenal of new tools, researchers can now identify the presence of genetic markers earlier than ever before and predict a person’s chance of developing cancer in their lifetime,” said Jill Porcellato, chairman of the Desert Mountain CARE Board of Directors since 2017.
“CARE’s commitment to treating cancer through early detection, when we have the best chance of successful treatment, is why we funded two leading-edge projects: Mayo Clinic’s INTERCEPT and HonorHealth’s RADAR program.”
CARE funding helped the INTERCEPT (Interrogating Cancer Etiology Using Proactive Genetic Testing) program develop a new way to detect and prevent cancers by identifying genetic mutations that indicate if a person has inherited pre-dispositions. When these mutations are discovered, the physician can prescribe specific preventative measures and targeted therapies.
“Some people are genetically predisposed to developing certain types of cancer, such as breast or colon cancer,” said Dr. Jewel Samadder, who directs the high-risk cancer clinic at Mayo Clinic. “By identifying the genetic basis of cancer, we can intervene earlier with more precise therapies and thereby improve one’s chance of cure.”
RADAR (Rapid Detection and Assessment of Response) provides physicians with advanced imaging tools and procedures coupled with high-tech analytics that enable them to detect and diagnose cancer earlier and determine if the treatment protocol is effective. With CARE’s continued support, RADAR moved from research testing to clinical application.
“RADAR will enable us to identify the right treatment early on and have better treatment success rates for patients,” said Dr. Ronald Korn, who leads the program. “Using non-invasive, high-specific analytic tools and imaging techniques, RADAR physicians will be able to monitor a patient’s response to chemotherapy or radiation.”
Desert Mountain CARE was started by three community members all receiving treatment for breast cancer at Mayo Clinic. Following successful treatments, they organized a golf tournament to raise money for breast cancer research. One of the women, Sylvia Owens, remains on the CARE Board of Directors today.
CARE exclusively funded breast cancer research through 2006, added prostate cancer research in 2007, and then expanded in 2012 to include early detection initiatives and essential research projects.
Desert Mountain CARE, a 501[c] organization, donated $548,000 in 2021. Annual donations are primarily secured through a pledge program, as well as from an annual event that includes a gala and a golf tournament held every March at Desert Mountain.
“Together, the Desert Mountain community has achieved so much in the past 24 years, yet we all recognize there is much more to be done before we can see a day when cancer is defeated,” Porcellato said. “CARE is proof that it takes a generous community to come together to make a difference.”