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Neoplasia. Mar 2002; 4(2): 181–183.
PMCID: PMC1550327

Art of the Brain UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program

Newsflash. . . I sell brain cancer

The words came on the wind of a rumor. “I have breast cancer, but I'm not selling it like Judi Kaufman,” someone said. Words laden with spit smacked my heart. I hold residual hurt in the palm of my hand for examination. I see whispers that I hear like screams. “Yes, I AM selling brain cancer. I terrify people while I ask myself ‘What's the problem?’” The deal God and I made was He was to make a map to a place where I can manage my head with hope. An oligodendroglioma, a kind of malignant brain tumor, was resected from my right frontal lobe on November 3, 1997. It is fall 2001, and I am still alive.

I sell brain cancer with all of my heart because some die from brain cancer. By the end of 2001, 13,000 people in the United States alone will be gone. Because the brain is the most complex and fragile organ in the body, controlling all of our functions, yours and mine, it makes brain cancer the most difficult kind of cancer to treat.

I have more than 100 brain buddy volunteers, 35 who I know personally. We have broken bread together in my home. As we watch people leave this world, we think this is a big-enough reason for us to be selling brain cancer. My friend and co-chair, Joyce Bromiley, watched her Aunt Angie die days after our first event in the fall of 2000. Richard Seymour's mother, Teresa Seymour, died the day after Richard did an operatic concert in her honor to help pay for her medical care. At her funeral, we heard music and know that Richard keeps his mother's memory alive by creating “Music from the Heart”.

So folks, it is as simple as that. I do sell brain cancer, as a stargazer. I pray that my work will mean that people like Laura Gibson, age 20, Kevin Green, age 4, along with people like my friend Shari Lewis, Gary Schwartz, Michael Strudnick, Charlie English and Jack Elliot will have a chance at life. I have the chance, right now, to help. When my tumor was removed, I lost my number and time skills. As soon as I knew and told people these disabilities, I found that those who truly love me accept my changes and respect my efforts. I am less inhibited these days and love words that talk truth.

I received a great gift from my frontal lobe surgery. My creativity has gone wild, like a yellow blowing balloon on a long string in one hand, and a red one in the other. I have to ask for assistance in blowing big bubbles, so as not to overwhelm my family and friends.

I do not have expectations that anyone should be like me or perform like me. Selling disease, like me, is not for everyone. Most keep theirs private, as it should be for others. Believe me, I know that selling brain cancer means we all have a better chance at life.

Dr. Timothy Cloughesy, Director of Neuro-Oncology at UCLA, is using emerging technology that is already increasing the survival rate for many brain cancer patients. I think I am one of those lucky ones. You bet I sell brain cancer for me, for my family, for friends. Not so bad, this news, it is good for me. I am glad I can still hear and feel the wind, understand other people's pain. I fly free.

Art of the Brain Encourages Brain Cancer Patients and their Caregivers to use Creativity in a Variety of Ways to Regain their Self-Worth and Personal Power

Mario del Valle picked up a paintbrush a few years back, not knowing if he would survive to finish even one painting. Diagnosed with a life -threatening brain tumor 8 years ago, Mario chose not to be physically defeated. His artist mother, Pilar del Valle, helped inspire him to learn to use his left hand. He overcame vision and other obstacles to produce eclectic watercolors. The Auburn press described the act of Mario's painting as the “result of this life's epiphany, and a triumph of the human spirit.”

Judi Kaufman

A brain cancer survivor, Judi Kaufman founded Art of the Brain in 2000. She leads a team of dedicated volunteers to raise money for brain cancer research under the direction of Dr. Cloughesy, Director of the UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program. The “Art of the Brain” fund has helped Dr. Cloughesy develop one of the premier research laboratories in the world where he partners with neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuroscientists and cancer researchers to eradicate this often -fatal disease. Many of the project supporters are members of the broad-based entertainment industry and Beverly Hills. They are deeply committed to this initiative, which successfully garnered over a quarter of a million dollars in brain cancer research funds in 2000.

The Los Angeles Business Journal, in partnership with NAWBO and the Women of Los Angeles, named Judi Kaufman, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Art of the Brain, as a one of the winners of the 10th annual Women Who Make A Difference Awards. The recognition award was presented to women, selected from a group of 63 nominees, from the worlds of business and nonprofit endeavors.

Dr. Timothy Cloughsey

Dr. Timothy Cloughsey is the Director of the UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program and the Co-Director of the Henry F. Singleton Brain Cancer Research Program. He has also received the following grants: STOP CANCER, Research Career Development Award 1997–2000, Beatrice Kolliner Scholar 1997–1998 (Jonsson Cancer Center), The Michael C. Dunn, MD, Brain Tumor Research fund and The Neil Elliot fund for Brain Cancer Research. He is active in the American Academy of Neurology and the North American Society for Neuro-Oncology, and has served on the review board for UCLA School of Medicine Residency Selection Committee since 1991, UCLA Department of Neurology Quality Assurance Committee since 1997, and the UCLA School of Medicine Human Subjects Protection Committee since 1997. He has also been a member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1995.

“Music from the Heart” Raises Voices, Spirits and More than US$275,000 for UCLA Brain Cancer Research

“Music from the Heart,” a fundraiser for UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program's Art of the Brain, raised more than US$275,000 for brain cancer research at UCLA.

In loving memory of her mother, legendary Shari Lewis, who died of cancer that spread to her brain, “Music from the Heart” featured the witty Mallory Lewis as Mistress of Ceremonies along with the wisecracking, Lamb Chop.

Parthenon Huxley, a member of Electric Light Orchestra, performed a moving song written in honor of his wife who died from brain cancer. Lili Haydn, a rock/pop singer/violinist, performed an original song in honor of her mother who died of brain cancer. Also dazzling the audience were international opera singer Juliana Gondek, Broadway great Theodore Bikel, brain cancer patients and their caregivers and a 35-piece orchestra conducted by Stormy Sacks.

Established in 2000 by brain cancer survivor and international community activist, Judi Kaufman, UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program's Art of the Brain is dedicated to raising funds necessary to further breakthrough research for brain cancer, as well as providing the best and most effective treatment options to patients suffering from this devastating disease. Headed by Dr. Timothy Cloughsey, Director of the UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program, the research team uses emerging technology and is already increasing the survival rate for many cancer patients. Last year's event featured art from brain cancer patients and their caregivers alongside the work of world-renowned artists.

UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program's mission is to innovate and render excellence in patient care with compassion to a defined group of patients utilizing the four arms of the program: Molecular Genetic Research, Clinical Research, Clinical Care and Psychosocial Care. The goal is to utilize the four arms of the program to provide a cure that affords quality of life for the patient.

Brain tumors are the second leading cause of death among children and young adults up to the age of 34. Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in adult, primary malignant brain tumors and is the fastest leading cause of cancer deaths among the elderly. Because the brain is such a complex and fragile organ, it makes this cancer the most difficult kind to treat. One hundred thousand people in the United States each year will be diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor.

Art of the Brain held its annual fundraiser, “Music from the Heart,” at UCLA's Royce Hall on Sunday, October 7, 2001. In loving memory of her mother, Shari Lewis, who died of cancer that spread to her brain, “Music from the Heart” also featured a commemorative performance by Mistress of Ceremonies, Mallory Lewis, with her sidekick, Lamb Chop.

Brain cancer survivor and founder of Art of the Brain, Judi Kaufman, and Dr. Timothy Cloughsey, Director of the UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program at “Music from the Heart.”

All proceeds from the event went to brain cancer research at UCLA.

  • Genetic profiling will lay the groundwork to change brain tumor classification from one based on visual characteristics to one based on molecular characteristics.
  • Genetic profiling of brain tumors will reflect an individual patient's response to treatment and their risk of cancer progression.
  • Genetic profiling of tumors will define the very molecules that are driving the growth of individual tumors.
  • With the analysis of the differences in the gene pattern of two patients, with one responding to a certain therapy and one not responding well, we will explain the disparate responses to therapy.
  • Looking at the expression patterns of thousands of genes in a variety of brain tumor samples helps UCLA researchers predict how certain tumors will respond to treatment.
  • To date, we have identified about a dozen genes that are believed to play a role in brain cancer, but hundreds and thousands of other genes in different patterns of expression will determine how tumors behave.
  • Physicians will be treating the genetic abnormality causing the tumor rather than making decisions by tumor type.

Signatures

For more information on Art of the Brain, please visit www.artofthebrain.org.
Art of the Brain
UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program
710 Westwood Plaza, Suite 1-230
Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Tel: +1-310-825-5074
Fax: +1-310-825-0644

figure neo0402_0181_fig001
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Mario del Valle (JoseMar) was born in Columbia. He now resides in Northridge, California.
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Articles from Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) are provided here courtesy of Neoplasia Press
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