-Penn Ice Skaing Mixer
Penn Ice Rink
Penn Dental School
-Philly Oral Cancer Walk & 5K
Penn Dental School
-7:00AM Run registration
-8:00AM Run start
*Click the image below to sign up for the event!
(Photo from Roger C. Pelletier (cancer survivor mentioned in the article) with his friends and family:
Xander Brodeur, Lydon Pelletier, Roger C. Pelletier, Gabe Brodeur, Avery Pelletier & Sydney Pelletier)
On the morning of April 6th, green and purple balloons lined up Locust Walk leading to the starting line Philly Oral Cancer Walk and 5k. Inside Penn dental’s Schattner Center, signs with oral cancer facts hung along the central atrium staircase. For Penn’s 5th annual Oral Cancer Walk, more than 120 volunteers gathered together to host this event raising awareness about oral cancer. Runners, walkers and even some volunteers received free oral cancer screenings from Penn and Temple’s faculty and residents.
As this year’s opening speaker, Dr. Thomas Sollecito, Chair of Oral Medicine at Penn, spoke about an exciting future in screening for oral cancer. From a screening for specific molecular biomarkers in saliva, patients may receive personalized diagnosis for individual oral cancer risks. Dr. Sollecito also encouraged everyone to incorporate oral self-exams into daily routine by remembering to “brush, floss, and examine.”
Christian “Patch” Patchell, a professional illustrator and lecturer at the University of the Arts, also spoke about his experience as an oral cancer survivor. Cancer-free for five years and counting, Patch shared his personal experience with excerpts from his book “I Put the Can in Cancer”, calling on dentists as the “first line of defense” against oral cancer.
Dan Caban, a fourth year at Temple Dental, was one of the student volunteers at the event. Earlier that week Dan had diagnosed a patient with advanced oral cancer. “He had come in for a biopsy and I had to break the news to the patient,” he said, recalling the difficult moment. “It's important to screen and educate your patients. As a dentist you never want to have to deliver the news that your patient has cancer.”
Among the 104 runners was Tanya Alimova, a first year dental student at Penn. “I wanted to spread awareness about this cancer very relevant to our profession,” explained Tanya. “Since my mom had lung cancer, I know firsthand how debilitating cancer can be.” She encouraged her fiancé Daniel Straus to run the 5k with her this morning. Daniel added, “When my dentist used to do screenings on me, I didn’t know what he was doing. Now I know it’s very important to be screened regularly.”
Also at the event was Roger C. Pelletier who had been diagnosed with oral cancer in September 2009. Pointing out the scars on his shin from his 16-hour mandible reconstruction surgery, he discussed different causes of oral cancer. “It’s amazing that human papilloma virus is responsible for oral cancer. Long time ago we thought it was just smoking and drinking, those lifestyle choices you made.” He said, looking on at his three girls. “It’s my third year back at Oral Cancer Walk. You guys at Penn saved my life and I’ll be here every year.”
This year’s Philly Oral Cancer Walk and 5k raised a record-setting $15,662. Leading up to the event, the Penn Oral Cancer Society held many fundraising events including an ice skating mixer at the Class of 1923 Ice Rink and a BodyCombat marathon. This wonderful event was a truly collaborative effort with the help of student volunteers from not only Penn but also Temple, Drexel, Swarthmore, and Community College of Philadelphia.
-Yesle Kim ('16)