It seems like a lifetime since Max’s grandfather wrote an e-mail to family and friends on May 3, 2007 that started, “Today Max is 4 years old, yesterday he was diagnosed with cancer.” As a result of Max’ diagnosis, our family’s crusade to “make a difference” began. The Plotkin family formed the Max Cure Fund (the Fund) at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in June, 2007 for the purpose of advancing research into rare forms of pediatric cancers, which historically have been underfunded as compared to the more prevalent forms of cancer.
After speaking to Dr. Richard O’Reilly, Chair of the Pediatric Unit at MSKCC, it was determined that our mission would be to assist MSKCC in the underwriting of a research laboratory dedicated to alternative treatments and finding cures. The anticipated cost was estimated at $5.0 million. We are committed to raising that amount. We were told that $500,000 was needed to start the project. As of today, the Fund has received in excess of $510,000. Included in that amount is $196,000 which was donated to the Fund by The Max Cure Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non – profit corporation (the Foundation), from the proceeds of the Roar For A Cure Family Day Carnival held in East Hampton in August. The balance of over $314,000 had been contributed to the Fund by 555 donors, including yourself, consisting primarily of those who responded to our fundraising campaign over the past 2 ½ years. The donors consisted of family, friends, and strangers who learned of our efforts and included a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Life as we once knew it is gone forever and we are now dedicated to a different path. There are over 12,500 children diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States. Each school day 46 children on average are diagnosed with cancer. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and nineteen. One in every five children diagnosed will die five years from the time of diagnosis. There are more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S. This lab at MSKCC will save lives and make the treatment process less harsh, with fewer side effects.
In December, 2008, we expanded our efforts to include not only benefiting the Fund at MSKCC, our primary beneficiary, but to also include other pediatric cancer causes that we believe warrant our attention and participation. The Foundation was formed for that purpose. This past summer we held the First Annual Roar For A Cure Family Day Carnival in East Hampton and collected in excess of $350,000, 20% of which covered costs, leaving $280,000 for distribution. In addition to the monies donated to the Fund ($196,000), contributions were made to Katy’s Courage Fund, LLC ($70,000) to financially assist a family in Sag Harbor whose ten year old daughter, Katy, is afflicted with a rare form of liver cancer and is being treated at MSKCC. The balance of the contributions went to the TJ Martell Foundation whose mission is to advance research into Cancer, Leukemia and AIDS ($14,000).
This past summer was a milestone for Max. We were told that he is in remission, and that his two-year chemotherapy protocol called New York II has been completed. Vince Lombardi once said, “We would accomplish many more things in life, if we did not think of them as being impossible.” If there is one thing that we learned over the years with Max, anything is possible. The doctors are monitoring Max closely and he receives a chest x-ray, MRI and PET scan monthly. Another milestone was the removal of Max’s mediport in October. The mediport was surgically implanted at the time of his diagnosis so that he could receive chemotherapy. Today, we received the news that Max’s scans came back clean again. Max is in the first grade and he loves going to school. He is slowly building up his stamina and strength, and enjoys playing basketball on the weekends. Max’s courage and determination continues to inspire those that know him.
As we approach year end 2009 and as you consider making deductible charitable contributions, we ask that you consider The Max Cure Foundation as one of the sources of your largesse. Contributions can be sent to the Foundation, c/o Richard Plotkin, 21 Settlers Lane, Westfield, New Jersey 07090 by check payable to The Max Cure Foundation, Inc. Contributions can also be made online. See http://www.facebook.com/l/6e470;http:://www.maxcurefoundation.org and click on the notation for “donations.” The website will also give you information about the Foundation and about Max’s family’s efforts to “make a difference” and to turn what has been a family’s worst nightmare into a positive.
Thank you for your continued support.
Roar For A Cure-
On April 30th 2007 we went into MSKCC for a consultation with Co- Chairman of Pediatric Oncology, Dr. Paul Meyers. While in the waiting room, on the 9th floor of the pediatric unit a patients mother looked at Max (then only three years old , full head of hair) , and then over to Annemarie. She said, “He doesn’t look like he should be here.” Annemarie looked up and quietly replied, “I hope you are right.”
Unfortunately , two days later after the biopsy we learned his tumor was malignant. Two weeks later we learned it had spread. By mid June, Max was well into his chemotherapy. He was bald, bloated and pale from the medicines. He very much looked like he belonged there.
On October 13th, 2009 the doctors removed his port. This is a milestone. The port was surgically implanted in Max’s chest the day of the biopsy. They only remove the port after treatment, and once the patient is believed to be in remission. This is good news.
Max climbed up onto the operating table and lied down. We watched the anesthesiologist slowly administer the anesthesia. Annemarie and I watched him fall to sleep. I kissed him on his head, and then we left the room. Twenty minutes later he was in recovery.
Shortly after, I left the hospital to go to work. I walked out the glass doors onto 68th street and headed up towards First Avenue to catch a cab. While walking I felt a sudden jolt of joy. For a slight moment , I felt like I did the day of my high school graduation. I wanted to throw my cap up in the air and celebrate. But then reality set in. I felt more like the father of a soldier, who was just told that the war is over, and his son is coming home.
Over 12,500 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States. Each school day, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. Pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of one and nineteen. One in every five children diagnosed will die five years from the time of diagnosis. There are more than 270,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S.
As we approach the end of the year- please keep us in mind when making donations. We are dedicated to saving our children suffering from cancer as well as those that are next in line.
Roar For A Cure-