At the 2016 Quest for a Cure Gala, the CDCN honored five people who embody the CDCN spirit with Castleman Warrior Awards. Each award winner was nominated by members of the CDCN community and were voted in by the CDCN's Scientific Advisory Board. Thank you to each of the award winners and finalists for inspiring the CDCN community to work hard to cure this disease!
Castleman Warrior Patient of the Year:
There were four finalists for the 2016 "Castleman Warrior Patient of the Year Award!": Greg Pacheco, Victoria Humphries, Mitchell Drake and Gary Gravina. Each of these patients was nominated for their positive impact in the Castleman disease community. This year’s award went to Gary Gravina, the patient that has made the greatest in the lives of CD patients and in the fight against Castleman disease in 2016! This award was presented by Dr Jason Ruth, the CDCN’s Chief Scientific Officer, who shared his thoughts about Gary at the Quest for a Cure Gala:
“Patients are the reason CDCN exists, and they are what drives our organization forward, which is why it's so important to recognize Gary, a patient who has meant so much to his family, friends, and CDCN team. Seeing him intubated in the ICU reminded us of how aggressive CD is, how fragile life is. New discoveries we made using his tissue samples, generously contributed while in ICU, gave us important insights into CD and reminded us of how strong we are when we work together and that is how we will overcome CD.”
Watch Gary's acceptance speech here:
Castleman Warrior Loved One of the Year:
The four finalists for the 2016 “Castleman Warrior Loved One of the Year Award” were Charlyn Pacheco, Caitlin Fajgenbaum, Cindy Humphries, and Mileva Repasky. Dr David Fajgenbaum, Co-founder and Executive Director of the CDCN, was honored to present the award to Mileva Repasky:
“Mileva is the ultimate loved one. She is an incredible mother, advocate, wife, Warrior, and friend. Mileva has taken such great care of her daughter Katie, who battles Castleman disease. She has been a source of so much strength to other patients within the CD community. She has done an incredible job as the Director of the Castleman Warrior program. Castleman’s picked the wrong patient when it struck Katie, because the Repasky’s are fighting back and they’re gonna make Castleman disease pay!”
Castleman Warrior Researcher of the Year:
Dr Alexander Fossa was honored with the 2016 “Castleman Warrior Researcher of the Year Award". A hematologist at the University of Oslo, Dr Fossa is the ultimate example of a collaborator. Despite having a small practice in Oslo, Dr Fossa went above and beyond to scavenge through records from Castleman disease patients across Norway to identify samples for several important CDCN studies over the course of 2016. Specifically, he provided over 20 precious samples for HUNT I, HUNT II, and SPEED II. These samples are game changing and Dr Alexander Fossa will go down in history as the collaborator who contributed the most samples to the research that changes things for CD.
Castleman Warrior Physician of the Year:
Dr Frits van Rhee, a Professor of Medicine in the Myeloma Institute at UAMS, was named the 2016 “Castleman Warrior Physician of the Year!” Dr van Rhee has been a leader in the field for over a decade and treats over 100 patients with CD. He was the Principal Investigator of the clinical trial that led to the only FDA-approved treatment for Castleman disease. Dr Fajgenbaum was honored to award Dr van Rhee, who is his own Castleman disease physician:
“As his patient, I can say that he has saved my life 3 times. He has also been the most caring and compassionate physician that I have ever come across in all my years, and I know all of his patients feel the same way.”
Castleman Warrior in the Community:
Finally, Mary Guilfoyle was honored with this year’s “Castleman Warrior in the Community Award". Mary is a Senior Director and Compound Development Team Leader for Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Mary, along with many other colleagues at Janssen, has been an incredible partner in advancing research and care for Castleman disease patients. Mary and her team have gone above and beyond the call of duty to fund and partner on 3 major studies as well as supporting our patient summit today and annual meeting at ASH. Two of these studies were done on samples that were left over from a previous study and could have just stayed on the shelf, but Mary wouldn’t allow that. She wanted these samples to be put to use to help patients. Dr Fajgenbaum shared that as soon as he learned that Mary was the winner of this award, he immediately thought of something she has said on several conference calls: “We want to make the decision that is best for patients. David, what is best for patients?”
Thank you to each of these Castleman Warriors. We could not accomplish all we are doing without you!