AURORA – In her lab at the University of Colorado Hospital, Dr. Virginia Borges is researching not only what causes breast cancer in young new moms, but what can be done to treat and prevent it.
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“When ladies are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, the cancers look different, behave different, they're aggressive,” she said. “There are changes that happen in a young mother’s breast tissue even after she delivers her child, or if she chooses to nurse that child, that can cause these cancers to be much more aggressive.”
Dr. Borges’ research was launched 15 years ago with a grant from the American Cancer Society. The research funded by that grant has helped Dr. Borges secure other grants from other organizations as her research has advanced.
“Our institution is very fortunate in that we receive a grant every year that gives us money to fund junior facility and early projects to get research off the ground and important ideas moving forward,” she said. “It’s this amazing domino effect of an organization like the ACS who believes in its local institution.”
In fact, the American Cancer Society believes in a number of Colorado institutions.
“The American Cancer Society is funding over $8 million today in the state of Colorado at Anschutz Medical Campus, at CU Boulder, at UNC and at CSU,” said Scott Dishong, the executive director of the ACS’s Rocky Mountain Region.
Much of the money the group grants out is raised by events like the Relay for Life and the upcoming Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. But the ACS also has an army of volunteers who provide services to patients, such as those who provided more than 4,000 Colorado cancer patients rides to and from their treatment programs through the Road to Recovery ride share program.
“It does give folks who might not be able to give dollars the opportunity to give time and their vehicle to get a cancer patient to and from treatment,” Dishong said.
The American Cancer Society offers other services to cancer patients, including helping them find lodging if their treatments take them away from home. They also can help connect patients and their families to services outside the ACS that can help provide assistance in other ways.
But ultimately, the goal of the of the ACS is to help find cures for cancer and even prevent them.
“We will, cancer by cancer, knock them off,” Dr. Borges said.