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Philadelphia Couple Raises Money for Thyroid Cancer Research

“When I heard Dr. Mandel talk about her team’s research and the way it could improve care for thyroid cancer patients like me, I knew I had to get involved,” said Ellen Fishman, a thyroid cancer survivor.

Ms. Fishman was already working to make a difference for thyroid cancer survivors through the help of Joan Shey, founder of the Light of Life Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to thyroid cancer research and patients. Together, Ms. Fishman and Ms. Shey organized a gala in the spring to raise money for thyroid cancer research.

Ms. Fishman had met Dr. Susan Mandel, MD, MPH, a professor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, at an Abramson Cancer Center conference, where patients, families, and survivors learned about thyroid cancer from experts on the Penn Medicine faculty. In addition to becoming an advocate, Ms. Fishman decided to switch her care to HUP and direct the proceeds from the gala to support Dr. Mandel’s research.

Because of the gala’s success, Ellen and her husband, Harris, were able to join the Light of Life Foundation to present a check for $25,000 to Penn Medicine for Dr. Mandel’s research on July 13. Dr. Mandel has been researching new approaches to thyroid cancer follow up in patients at both low and high risk for thyroid cancer recurrence.

Funding for fellows as well as faculty is essential. Dr. Gabe Smolarz, MD, MSB, CCD, a fellow in Dr. Mandel’s group, recently conducted a promising clinical research project funded by donors like the Fishman family and Light of Life Foundation. He studied recurrence rates for patients with low-risk thyroid cancer and concluded that long-term invasive testing is not required for these patients, saving time and money for both patients and physicians.

Said Ms. Fishman, “We plan to hold the gala every year. Investing in this research is investing in a better future for so many local families.”

Read more at Penn-Medicine.