Thursday, October 15, 2015

Professor Lilly Cheng of San Diego State University's Confucius Institute Joins China Lymphoma Patient Project

Prof. Lilly Cheng of Confucius Institute at SDSU
On a cloudy fall afternoon in 1996, I sat shivering and silent in my oncologist’s office while he gave me the dreaded diagnosis: “Advanced stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer of the immune system!” 

I knew virtually nothing about lymphoma. But I learned quickly when my oncologist told me I’d be “very lucky to live three years.” 

I was frightened, of course, but determined to prove him wrong. And today, 19 years later, I’m thankfully still alive and well. The sun still shines for me and my family. But it’s been a long journey.

In the years since my original cancer diagnosis and several recurrences, 
I've become an advocate for my fellow cancer patients. And that has led to the most important project of my life: The China Lymphoma Patient Project. 

Professor Lilly Cheng & The Confucius Institute
Our project's mission is both ambitious and very simple. Lymphoma diagnoses are alarmingly increasing in China, and we are reaching out to China's population of lymphoma patients and their families, and also increasing awareness of lymphoma in China and across the globe. We're aligned with pharmaceutical and biotech companies and cancer hospitals in China and the United States, and with corporations, foundations, oncologists, researchers and dignitaries in China and the United States. 

And now we are honored to be joined by Dr. Lilly Cheng (pictured above) and her Confucius Institute at San Diego State University. Prof. Cheng is a highly respected professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Director of the Chinese Studies Institute at San Diego State, which is proudly my alma mater.

A dynamic leader, Professor Cheng is also Director of the renowned Confucius Institute at SDSU. The Institute was established in collaboration with the Office of Chinese Language International Council (Hanban), which is committed to promoting cultural diversity and harmony. In 2013, the Confucius Institute was the recipient of a $1 million grant from the Hanban, which is affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.

Prof. Cheng has kindly offered the Institute, which aims to strengthen educational and cultural cooperation between China and the United States, as a platform to get the word out globally about our project. 
Professor Cheng and the Institute will have a strong presence at our project's global launch event in January, 2016 at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, the epicenter of San Diego, California’s booming science and cancer research community.

The Consortium, which is doing groundbreaking work in stem cells and unlocking their ability to treat cancer and many other diseases and health issues, is located in a dynamic spot on Torrey Pines Mesa in La Jolla, California. 
Within a stone’s throw of the Sanford Consortium are the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California San Diego and the university’s renowned Moores Cancer Center, which is my personal cancer hospital.

The project is funded by tax-deductible educational grants and sponsorships, which we are currently seeking. Our 501c3 nonprofit partner is the Asian Heritage Society, a global and prestigious organization based in Southern California whose mission is to help people in need and promote education, good health, and friendship among disparate races and cultures. The Society has a deep commitment to China and does outstanding work.

Lymphoma on the rise in China

How did this endeavor come about? Well, I recently learned that lymphoma is alarmingly on the rise in China, and was saddened by this news. I’ve had a lifelong respect and affection for China's people and culture. While lymphoma is becoming increasingly common in China, that isn’t widely known. Knowledge of the disease remains scarce in China, even as the disease grows.

For the most part, the people of China still think a lymphoma diagnosis means death. 
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, I had the same fear. It was engendered by my lack of knowledge about this type of cancer. I was in the dark. I really thought I was going to die. No one with this disease should have to go through this. 

That's why I am doing this. China, a country I care about deeply, is making incredible progress in lymphoma research, as I will note in more detail below. But its people still face a spiraling rise in this disease. I’m a relentlessly positive and happy person by nature. And I just want to help as many of my fellow lymphoma patients get through what I've been through and give them the information and the hope they need to survive. 

As many of my Chinese friends have wisely told me throughout my cancer battle, “Jamie, being positive and optimistic will not necessarily save you, but being pessimistic and negative will most certainly harm you.”

Building Coalitions With World Lymphoma Leaders
Our project has established significant relationships with several of the world's most acclaimed lymphoma researchers. We will include at our launch event in January, 2016 exclusive talks by these renowned scientists, as well as Professor Cheng and other notable members of the Chinese and Chinese-American communities.

At the launch we’ll be joyously celebrating China’s culture and research and the very real and positive friendship between the people of China and the United States. We will feature some of China’s most beloved artists, musicians, painters and calligraphers, A-list celebrities, personal stories from lymphoma survivors, and more.

Our project is reaching out to multiple cancer hospitals in China who are treating lymphoma, including Buddhist hospitals and others in several locations. A complete list of participating hospitals will be announced soon.

We are connecting, too, with corporations and foundations in China and the United States, who are helping us publicize the project and gain support, and we are of course connecting directly with the people who matter most: the growing lymphoma population in China and their families. 
We know that through all of our contacts and resources, we can get our educational and inspirational message out to a very large number of people in China and around the world.

What Will Our Project Offer?
The China Lymphoma Patient Project will initiate several positive and unprecedented programs to inform and inspire China's lymphoma population, in full cooperation of course with China's government and with China's doctors and hospitals who treat lymphoma patients.

First, the project will have its own dedicated website in both Simplified Chinese and English that will be dynamic and changing all the time. It will include news about lymphoma and China, and will be all about friendship between our two countries. No politics. 

One of the other cornerstones of the project is an entirely new version of my book, Hope Begins in the Dark: 40 Lymphoma Survivors Tell Their Exclusive Life Stories, which is the most popular book ever written for and about lymphoma patients. 

The new book will be entirely rewritten exclusively for China and will include the amazing personal stories of Chinese lymphoma survivors. The book will of course be translated into Simplified Chinese and be given for FREE to lymphoma patients in China and their families at every doctor's office and hospital with which we partner..

The book for China is just the beginning of what we will be doing for China’s lymphoma patients.

We will also include regular online journalism reports about lymphoma and China in both Chinese and English from renowned journalist, author, musician and lymphoma patient advocate Jamie Reno and other respected American and Chinese journalists. 

Our project will keep our supporters up to date on how we are making a real and positive differenced in the lives of China's lymphoma patients, and will be writing about new and pipeline treatments for lymphoma, fellow patients, and more.

Perhaps most importantly, the project will also include a basic full-color, glossy pamphlet, in Simplified Chinese, that explains to patients and their loved ones a little bit about what lymphoma is, the various types, etc. 

Living the Dream
Directing the first and only cancer patient advocacy project for people in China who are suffering from lymphoma is the fulfillment of a longtime dream. This educational project is simply about friends reaching out to friends. No politics. 

We are for the very first time bridging the gap between science in China and the lymphoma patients in China who will benefit from the science. My fellow lymphoma patients need to know that this cancer is treatable and beatable, and that there are many new treatments and more in the pipeline and coming soon.

I just want to help people get through what I’ve already been through, and show them they are stronger and better than their cancer. That mission has led me to the most meaningful endeavor of my life.

The project mission is simple: Inform and inspire lymphoma patients and their families in China, where this disease is increasing, and expand global awareness of what lymphoma is, what the latest treatments are, and what is coming soon.

Our project enthusiastically supports the new generation of lymphoma treatments that have just been approved or are in the pipeline. 
We also support China’s traditional modes of treatment including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which of course has been helping people heal for thousands of years.

Lymphoma Research Booming in China & US
The fact that there is a surge in lymphoma in China, and that China's lymphoma patients still don't know very much about this type of cancer, is ironic because there is so much advanced and exciting lymphoma research being done right now in China. 

Many brilliant scientists in China and the United States are working together to provide new treatments for this disease. However, word of this research has not yet made
its way to the people in China who have lymphoma. But it will soon.

Here are just some of the companies involved in the increasingly common and encouraging lymphoma research and treatment partnerships between China and the United States:

Denovo Biopharma, which has offices in San Diego and HangZhou, China, is a forward-thinking biotech company determined to help lymphoma patients and others through the development of innovative and personalized treatments. 

Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG), the stem cell therapy biomedicine firm with offices in China and the United States, has a promising new CAR-T cell therapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma in clinical trials.

Innovent Biologics, the prestigious Chinese biotech company run by visionary CEO Michael Yu, has partnered with American drug company Eli Lilly on a clinical trial of an immunotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

Chipscreen Biosciences, the highly respected China biotech company, recently was given approval for its innovative treatment for T-cell lymphoma patients.

* And Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, an American drug company, along with Casi Pharmaceuticals, an American drug company that focuses on China, have together just brought Zevalin, their effective, lifesaving radio-immunotherapy for lymphoma, to China.

What This Project Will Accomplish
One of my heroes in this world, renowned theoretical physicist, scientist, author and eternal optimist Stephen Hawking, once said, “Where there’s life, there is hope.”

This is so very true. And I’m sure Dr. Hawking wouldn’t mind if I reversed that and also said that, “Where there’s hope, there is life.”

In other words, by spreading hope to our friends in China, we will give many people in that great country the hope and information needed to successfully fight this insidious disease.

This project will literally save lives. And what could be more important than that? We would be honored to get you involved in this project and earn your financial support. Thanks so much for your interest. Hope begins now.


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