Ken Kohl (10:27 am)

Believe it or not, there are other things going on at The Ohio State University besides football and basketball. In our new feature, Campus Spotlight, we will periodically catch you up with what is happening with those sports and activities. This is the second part of 'The James" series, you can check out part one here.

Welcome back for Part 2 of the Q&A that I had about The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute with Eileen Scahill, Media Relations Manager, Ohio State University Medical Center. As you get further on in the reading, it may appear to get a little “wonkish”, but that's a good thing; it further stresses the insidious nature of cancer and breast cancer in particular. So, Eileen, take it away...  

For a lot of football fans, the most familiar connection to The James is the Stephanie Spielman fund. Can you please tell us how the Spielman's and The James were involved to set up the fund? What specific programs are underwritten by the Stephanie Spileman Fund?

Spielman Fund Background

Stefanie Spielman grew up in a loving home in northeastern Ohio and married her high school sweetheart, Chris, after they graduated from Ohio State.

During a breast self-exam in 1998, Stefanie found a lemon-sized lump. She mentioned it to her doctor, who diagnosed her with breast cancer. Stefanie was only 30 years old.

The Spielmans’ strong belief in family led Chris to take a year off from football to stay home and care for his family, bringing them unexpected national attention.  By publicly talking about breast cancer, more and more people learned about the disease and the importance of education and prevention.  Stefanie and Chris realized they could use their unique situation to do more.

Among the many well-wishers, a local grocery chain asked Chris what they could do to help.  He urged them to raise money for the OSUCCC-James, where Stefanie was undergoing treatment.  For one dollar, shoppers bought paper footballs that were posted with a message on store windows.  From that point on, funding support for the fund came from bake sales to golf tournaments.

Initially, Stefanie and Chris had a goal of raising $250,000. Within the first six months, more than $1 million dollars had been raised for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. Today through their work and the extraordinary grassroots support by Community Partners, more than $9.1 million has been raised.

Over the years more events have evolved, including the funds’ signature fundraiser, Stefanie’s Champions. It was Stefanie’s hope that every cancer survivor could name someone who stood by them, gave them courage and helped them through their diagnosis.  Each year, the event honors the Champions in the lives of cancer survivors who exemplify the qualities and values the Spielman family holds to be important.  Stefanie gave Chris the first award for his unwavering support.

Knowing treatment can create more than physical demands, Stefanie and Chris also started The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund.  This fund provides assistance to breast cancer patients and their families who may be experiencing financial challenges associated with treatment.  The fund has helped many patients with a wide range of needs, like groceries, wigs and lymphedema sleeves.

In November 2009, after a decade-long battle, Stefanie left us with some final thoughts: continue to fight.  Through it all, Stefanie kept a positive attitude and was always grateful for the blessings she felt life had given her.  Knowing that there is still more work to be done, she has encouraged us all to keep fighting and she has left us with a legacy of hope.  

Spielman Fund - Making a Difference

Breast Cancer Research
The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research is devoted to advancing research in breast cancer. Over the past few years, the fund has supported researchers and their efforts. Currently, the fund is focused on supporting the following areas:

•The Stefanie Spielman Chair in Cancer Imaging, held by Michael Tweedle, PhD. His work focuses on targeted molecular pharmaceuticals for imaging and therapy of cancer.

•Researchers in the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy and the Comprehensive Cancer Center are developing new drugs for breast cancer. The fund will support continued efforts to discover and test these new drugs in clinical trials.

•An invaluable resource to support breast cancer research is a large collection of breast cancers characterized by all the relevant pathological features of the cancers and the treatments and outcomes of the patients with these breast cancers. The fund is supporting two such efforts, the Spielman Breast Cancer Tissue Archive Services and Spielman Breast Cancer Tumor Bank. The Tissue Archive Services, under the leadership of Charles Shapiro MD, Director of Breast Cancer Medical Oncology at Ohio State, uses breast cancers already collected and stored in the Ohio State pathology department. The Tumor Bank collects breast cancers and blood samples from newly diagnosed patients. The Tissue Archive Services and the Tumor Bank allows for promising genes or proteins that first are discovered in the laboratory using cell lines or animal models to be quickly tested for their importance and relevance to human breast cancers that come from patients. Examples of ongoing research conducted using these resources include: the molecular factors associated with basaloid, or estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative and HER-2 negative (or “triple negative”) breast cancers, and the molecular factors associated with tamoxifen resistance.

Patient Assistance
The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund assists breast cancer patients and their families who are struggling to afford the costs associated with treatment. The fund has provided essential equipment and services, including circulation pumps for lymphedema, compression garments, wigs, nutrition supplements, gas cards, restaurant gift cards and assistance with transportation.

Caregiver Support
In the coming months, we will incorporate Strong Hearts (Spielman caregiver support organization) into The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund.  The fund will be renamed The Stefanie and Chris Spielman Patient and Caregiver Assistance Fund.

In conjunction with JamesCare, programs will be developed to support the caregiver in a cancer patient’s life.  Support will include community, assistance, resource and education connections.

Community - A network to help caregivers connect, offer advice and words of encouragement

Assistance - An inventory of discounted or free products to assist the caregiver (medical products, gift cards, care bag for chemo day, planners)

Resources - A library of services to assist the caregiver (child care, errands, home cleaning, etc)

Education - Programmatic support (support groups, grief and bereavement, counseling, etc)

This range of services provided by the Spielman Funds will make OSUCCC - James a destination of choice when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis.

[Ed: Because sometimes Champions need Champions]

Couldn't make it through the article w/o the help of a hanky, could you? I couldn't.

Please grab a cup a coffee and watch this video (7min) hosted by Chris Spielman. I know you're not going to refuse Chris Spielman. Follow this link to support The Stephanie Spielman for Breast Cancer Research Fund.

I'd like to thank Eileen Scahill for assembling responses to my questions, she did the heavy lifting for these articles. I couldn't have done this without her.


02/06/2012 11:25

Great stuff Ken. I long for a cancer free world and have had too many people I know deal with breast cancer. I heard one reason Spielman did not join Urban's staff was so he could have time with family and the SSBC fund. I am glad Chris has his priorities straight.

02/06/2012 12:42

Michael, thanks.

based on my experience with another organization, and in light of recent Koman/PP mess, if you can directly help out a cause (see links above) then it tends to work out better to meet our goals, such as you've just mentioned.

Regarding Chris Spielman; yeah, he is one person that Gets It.


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