Falls Church resident Sheila Levine is helping to raise funds for Thomas Jefferson University’s Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program, a research institute that has identified a donor willing to donate up to $200,000 to the program. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, offered to match dollar-for-dollar any funds the program raises before the end of the year, up to $200,000.
But this fundraising drive is personal for Levine. She was diagnosed with metastatic uveal melanoma, a rare cancer also known as ocular melanoma, six and a half years ago. She said she was led to believe that once her eye was removed that she would go into remission, but the cancer metastasized three and a half years ago.
After her cancer metastasized she began researching about the disease and treatments for it when she found out about Dr. Takami Sato and the work he’s doing at the Jefferson University’s Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program in Philadelphia. Now, she travels to Philadelphia for treatment regularly and said that, although she isn’t in remission, her treatment allows her have a normal life.
“My quality of life is still good,” she said. “I play tennis, go to the gym, and, basically, do mostly whatever I would normally do at this age.”
Because this cancer is rare, it is often difficult for research institute’s like Dr. Sato’s at Jefferson University to identify funders and raise money to do the work that they do. So this current fundraising drive, which ends on Dec. 31, has the potential to be a boon for the research institute.
The research institute is currently working on using targeted therapies to kill tumor cells more specifically than standard chemotherapy. A video about the Metastatic Uveal Melanoma Program at Jefferson and the work they do can be seen at Advancement.Jefferson.edu/SatoVideo2.
The program has raised over $100,000 with just over two weeks left in the year. Donation checks, made payable to Jefferson, can be mailed to Jefferson University’s Office of Institutional Advancement, located at 125 S. 9th St., Suite 700, Philadelphia with attention to Dr. Sato Challenge.