Finding support for rare cancer fight at ‘Hunt for Hope’

Patty Fuchs, Holden Fuchs, Solange Correa, and Zac Correa [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

A bevy of pink-clad scavengers scurried about Sebastian during the seventh annual Hunt for Hope to raise awareness about inflammatory breast cancer and fund clinical research through the IBC Network Foundation.

Teams left Riverview Park with an endless list of tasks – everything from taking videos of teammates asking strangers for autographs, to spinning team signs on a street corner. Participants were wrapped in toilet paper, executed magic tricks, made snow angels in the sand, and performed a litany of comedic tasks at local businesses to help educate the public about a serious, lesser known disease.

“IBC is a brutal disease. A mammogram won’t find it. An ultrasound won’t find it,” said Terry Arnold, IBC survivor and foundation founder. “IBC is an orphan disease. Pharma companies don’t want to fund research to cure it because there is no profit margin.”

IBC survival rates haven’t improved in the past 30 years as current treatment is based upon protocols developed for other forms of breast cancer. Highlighted on the foundation’s website and in their literature is the tagline, “No lump – still cancer.”

IBC is a rare, highly aggressive form of breast cancer that typically goes undetected until it presents visually at Stage III or IV.

Unlike other types of breast cancer, IBC indications include swelling, pain or a rash in the breast area.

Dr. Holly Hamilton, owner of Riverside Family Dental in Sebastian, hosts the annual scavenger hunt in memory of her friend, Dr. Lori Grennan, who died six years ago after launching the first Hunt for Hope event in Ohio.

Nationwide, Hunt for Hope events have raised more than $1.3 million since its inception, with 100 percent of the proceeds earmarked for IBC research.

In another local connection, the MD Anderson Cancer Center named its IBC Research Program and Clinic after the late Morgan Welch, a former local resident who succumbed to the devastating disease when just 24 years old.

“We have a lot of fun with this event, but the results of what happens afterward with the money that is donated, and the education to you and to the people you meet, goes beyond anything today,” said Hamilton.

An example of a true fighter, Hamilton wore a bandana to cover evidence of the treatments she is currently undergoing for her own diagnosis of triple-negative cancer, bringing home the importance of finding a cure for all cancers.

The ORC Nation team took First Place, competing against 11 other teams with such witty names as Hope Distributors, the IBC Boobie Brigade, Team TaTa and Hakuna-Ma-TaTas.

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Photos by: Denise Ritchie
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