When Sam Poley’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer he felt helpless. However, not one able to sit on his haunches Poley was compelled to try to do something – anything.
After some lengthy conversations with his dad’s doctor, Poley decided to do everything he could to keep science moving toward the cure his dad desperately needs.
“I want to help my Dad, yes, but I also want to help all men fight this,” said Poley, who lives in Durham, North Carolina. “I want Dad to have a chance at anything that could possibly extend his life and maintain the quality of that life. He isn’t strong enough for some of the more aggressive systemic treatments such as chemotherapy, so we are depending on breakthrough work in cancer research.”
After speaking with medical oncologist Daniel George, MD, Poley came to realize that his dad’s best chance may revolve around evolving, unconventional therapies – drugs as adaptable and multiform as the disease itself.
“Prostate cancer cells feed on copper; these particular cancer cells will consume all the copper they can get,” said George. “Our study will be designed to exploit this dependency as a weakness using an FDA-approved and generally well-tolerated drug known as disulfiram.”
Disulfiram, also attracted to copper, is highly toxic to prostate cancer cells but, dissimilar to chemotherapy, does not destroy body tissue. The study will allow cancer cells to consume large amounts of copper and, like an infrared homing device, the drug will be used to search and destroy the copper-filled cancer cells.
“I have a patient dying a week from prostate cancer,” said George. “This is a crisis for us. This study pioneers a completely different approach. This is not chemotherapy. This isn’t some toxic poison. This is therapy that some men with alcoholism take literally for the rest of their lives. If this works it would represent a completely new approach to treating prostate cancer. But because it involves a generic drug we can’t get funding from industry or federal agencies.
Poley decided if the only thing needed to make this treatment possible is a clinical trial, and all that the trial needs is funding, then the only obvious thing for him to do was raise funds.
With that, Poley launched Give 1 for Dad, a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million to support the proposed copper study (Copper Signaling Axis as a Target for Prostate Cancer therapeutics).
“This campaign is simple,” said Poley, director of public relations for the Durham Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. “I’m inviting others to give one time, just one percent of one day’s salary. For most people it adds up to just a few dollars. That’s nothing when compared to what our dads have done for us.”
According to the American Cancer Society prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. In 2015 there were about 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. More than 27,500 Americans died from prostate cancer, and statistics indicate one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
“I hope Give 1 for Dad raises awareness and gets underway the study Dr. George wants to conduct,” Poley said. “Although there is no guarantee that my father would be eligible for the study should we be successful, our hope is that it could provide answers for my Dad and millions more like him. That’s why I started this campaign – to help Duke test this theory and protocol.”
In launching Give 1 for Dad, Poley has partnered with local businesses, including LeGa Design Group, Pausback Advertising and Evan T. Howell Communications. To learn more about Give 1 for Dad or to give, visit give1fordad.com. Donors and supporters are encouraged to amplify the campaign’s message and encourage others to give by sharing links on social media networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Supporters are asked to use the hashtag #Give1forDad when posting.
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