The PhillyNETS Present Deb's Run For The Stripes in Support of Worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day at the Philadelphia Zoo

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The Philly NETs (neuroendocrine tumor cancers) and its patient community will celebrate the 3rd annual worldwide NET Cancer Awareness Day on November 10th at the Philadelphia Zoo with its inaugural 5K “Deb’s Run for The Stripes”. PhillyNETs is the sponsoring group in partnership with the Patients’ Project, a local nonprofit addressing the issue of health literacy. The Run will benefit University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center’s Neuroendocrine Tumor Program whose mission is to find new treatments and a cure for these chronic and disabling diseases.

The PhillyNETs, a support and resource group founded by local patients Suzi Garber and Deb Kilmartin was instrumental in supporting the creation of Abramson’s NET program in 2010 to become the only specialty program of its kind in the entire region. This patient group is closely allied with the clinic and refers patients from the region to Abramson’s elite multi-disciplinary program.

NETs are rare cancers, usually slow-growing and difficult to diagnose and detect, since they can disguise themselves as asthma, rosacea, irritable bowel syndrome and many other diseases. The incidence of NETs is increasing by 5% annually, the most of any other cancer. Over 90% of NET patients are initially incorrectly diagnosed and treated for the wrong disease for an average of 5-7 years. These tumors grow from endocrine cells that release hormones responding to signals from the nervous system. For the most part they are found in the gastrointestinal tract, but can be found throughout the body. The untimely diagnoses cause a delay in proper treatment and ample time for the tumors to metastasize. Most patients are on medication for life and receive a number of specialized surgical treatments that prolong their lives, but there is no cure.

Deb Kilmartin died in 2008 from carcinoid disease, a NET cancer; as the group grew, it has held several events honoring Deb’s memory and inspiration. In the medical community, the term “Zebra” is universally understood as a reference to a rare disease, hence the use of zebra-themed logos and events. When the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, died last year as a result of pancreatic NET cancer, his death became a catalyst for NET cancer awareness throughout the world. Almost everyone, including many doctors, interpreted the cause of his death as pancreatic cancer which has a much poorer prognosis and is a different disease entirely.

To enter the Run, visit Spectators (Zebrawatchers) can also purchase tickets in advance ($25) along with discount Zoo parking ($10). You may also call 267.288.5642 to reach the race coordinator. The Run begins at 9:00AM; the Walk, at 9:30 AM. The Run entry fee is $35 and includes a goodie bag and t-shirt; you may enter at the Zoo the day of the race but the cost is $40.

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Suzi Garber
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