KGO Radio hosts Cure-a-thon

March 27, 2008 8:14:49 PM PDT
Friday night KGO Radio kicks off an event they have hosted for nearly three decades. The Cure-a-thon, to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, has raised more than $15 million dollars. 100 percent of that money goes directly to research. In Fairfield a family is coping with cancer and Dr. Mignon Loh from UCSF is dedicated to finding a cure.

Tax season is the most stressful time of year for Lisa Medinas because she and her husband own a tax preparation business in Fairfield.

"I'm working like 9 to 12 hour days, five days a week and then on Saturday for another 8 hours," said Lisa.

All while their 4 year old daughter Heather is facing acute lymphocytic leukemia or A.L.L.

"I don't like it because it makes my hair fall out," said Heather.

Doctors diagnosed Heather with leukemia a month before her 4th birthday. Her parents were devastated.

"The only thing that we really knew was her dad had a friend that passed away when he was 18 of leukemia, so that's all we pretty much knew. We just thought, leukemia, cancer, she's not going to make it," said Lisa.

"For me it was terrifying, I couldn't talk for the first week," said Nick Rios.

But the family soon learned great strides have been made fighting childhood leukemia.

"So we have seen cure rates from basically the incurable in the 1970s and 60s, to now more than 80 percent of children will actually be cured when they are first diagnosed with A.L.L.," said UCSF Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Mignon Loh.

Dr. Mignon Loh sees patients at UCSF. She's also a renowned leukemia researcher, whose work includes looking at minimal residual disease.

"There are techniques that we can use to actually detect leukemia cells below what we can see in the microscope," said Dr. Loh.

The technology gives scientists more information about the disease clues previously not available that can help guide treatment.

"If we can detect some leukemia cells, even though they may be in a morphologic remission under the microscope, we'll actually give them more intensive chemotherapy," said Dr. Loh.

It's because of research in labs and families participating in clinical trials, that we've seen such dramatic changes in survival rates over the past few decades, but much more still needs to be done.

"That's why whenever the researchers come and they want to talk to us and they want to take blood or they want us to give saliva samples or anything, we do it," said Nick Rios.

"It's so important and it's really the only way that we've been able to make such incredible advances in curing childhood cancer," said Dr. Loh.

Heather's getting ready for yet another blood draw, this icy numbing cream should help ease the pain.

The Rios family is trying to take it day by day, relying on research, faith and family to pull them through, with Heather leading the way.

"We see how strong she is and we just have to get right behind her and be strong like her because she is tough. I'm proud of her, she's my everything," said Nick.

The Cure-a-thon kicks off Friday, March 28, at 7 p.m. on KGO Radio, but you don't need to wait until then to make your contribution. Click on the link below for more information on how to donate.

Among the items to be auctioned off, will be two paintings by our former colleague Pete Wilson who passed away last year.

KGO Radio Cure-a-thon: