Cancer. Its diagnosis can be devastating. Its affects are far-reaching. Bring up the topic in conversation and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t known a friend or loved one who’s been affected by it. That’s why the Bethel men’s basketball team, in connection with the Bethel science department, is holding a Stand Up to Cancer event this Saturday to raise funds for cancer research happening right on Bethel’s campus. Faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to write the name of their friend or loved one on a sign that reads, “I stand up for ________.”

“The purpose of the event is to bring awareness to the cancer research at Bethel, raise funds for the science department and most importantly, to stand up for cancer together as a community,” said Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Lightfoot.

Cary works with URG students in the research lab.

For Associate Professor of Biochemistry Lynne Cary, Ph.D., who directs undergraduate research at Bethel, cancer research is personal. That’s because her dear friend, former Bethel business professor Leslie Greising, Ph.D., was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2006. Greising’s diagnosis ignited a passion in Cary to focus the research at Bethel specifically on breast cancer. “I wanted our research to matter,” Cary said.

With funding from a Lilly Endowment through a QUEST grant, and the construction of a new science wing complete with state-of-the-art labs in 2007, Cary was able to provide students with a research experience comparable to that of a major research institution. And of students who have participated in the Undergraduate Research Group (URG), 90% have been accepted to medical or graduate school.

Currently, the URG is studying the problem that not all chemotherapy treatments work the same for all patients. Their hypothesis is that different drugs will have different effects, and that long-term treatments may cause harm to the patient. They are analyzing the cytotoxic effects of these drugs on non-target tissues, such as liver cells, with the hope that this research could lead to more research that would improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

This particular study was funded through a Sigma Xi student research grant, but Cary is working to obtain another Lilly Endowment to help fund further research.

At the January 12 basketball game, former Bethel baseball standouts Eric Stults, pitcher for the San Diego Padres, and Justin Masterson, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, will speak at halftime about how cancer has affected their own families. They will also sign items for fans, with all proceeds going to Bethel’s cancer research. In addition, 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales for the game will go to the science department.

Cary plans to use these funds to help purchase a $15,000 plate reader, a piece of lab equipment that would advance the current research the URG is doing. “It would greatly add to our abilities to carry this cytotoxicity research further,” Cary said.

Cary is overwhelmed by the support of both the Bethel administration, athletics department and the community. “I am really humbled that they wanted to help us with this,” she said.