11 months ago

2016 Fall/Winter Highlights of Hope

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  • Hope
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  • Michigan
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EVENTS COLLABORATING AGAINST CANCER When Trina Taylor hit the runway for the 11 th annual Couture for a Cure, the crowd rose to its feet in applause. “I always take in a deep breath of air right before I take my first step because in my mind I’m carrying all of those women that are dealing with the same things I am—being bald, living with cancer. For me it’s empowering,” Taylor said. “Instead of walking the runway, I was taking a bow and in that bow, I was saying ‘thank you.’” In 2012, Taylor was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. She’s been fighting hard ever since, undergoing numerous rounds of chemotherapy and becoming a well-known advocate in the patient community. Taylor is also a fashion model, and has recently walked in runway shows in Paris and New York. However, despite her best efforts and those of her doctors, her cancer continued to recur and eventually became resistant to traditional treatments. Then, a year ago, everything changed. Trina’s physician, Dr. Nilofer Azad, suggested she enroll in a Van Andel Research Institute–Stand Up To Cancer (VARI-SU2C) Epigenetics Dream Team clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University for a new combination treatment aimed at reprogramming cancer cells to better respond to chemotherapy. So far, it’s working “beautifully,” Azad said. “The importance of a clinical trial is that it gives so many people hope, hope for what’s next,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s very emotional when it comes to clinical trials because everything that I do as far as my cancer journey is wrapped around being able to see my son’s eyes.” TRINA TAYLOR WALKS THE RUNWAY AT COUTURE FOR A CURE. Taylor's story embodies not only the impact of research and clinical trials, but also of collaboration. Following the paradigmshifting framework of Stand Up To Cancer, 4 | VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE

“Trina is an absolutely amazing, strong woman and is a poignant reminder of why supporting scientific research and, in particular, clinical trials is so very important.” - Carol Van Andel the VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team brings together leading scientists, physicians and pharmaceutical companies with one goal—to compete against cancer rather than against each other. Bringing Together Fashion and Science More than 11 years ago, another sort of collaboration got underway, one that combined a love of high fashion with the generosity of the West Michigan community. Spearheaded by Carol Van Andel and supported by a dedicated group of community and business partners, the Institute hosted the inaugural Couture for a Cure at Leigh’s in East Grand Rapids in 2006. That first event, which has been sponsored by Amway since its inception, laid the foundation for what has now become West Michigan’s premiere fashion event, and has featured some of fashion’s most sought-after up-and-coming designers. “Couture for a Cure was born out of a love for fashion and a determination to use it to positively impact human health,” Van Andel said. “We are fortunate to be part of a community that so generously supports our efforts to eradicate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions that steal the lives of our loved ones.” This year, models walked the longest runway in Couture for a Cure’s history, sporting the latest trends in suiting, evening wear and street style from Leigh’s and the fall limited edition collection from ARTISTRY. The show closed with a preview of New York-based designer Wes Gordon’s spring 2017 collection, which meshes timeless sophistication with a youthful edge. His designs have been worn by First Lady Michelle Obama and A-list celebrities including Katy Perry, Emma Watson, Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth Paltrow. Make Memories on Purpose More than just a celebration of fashion, Couture for a Cure has come to represent the impact that a community can have on research. “This year’s Couture for a Cure was particularly special and we hope that it not only entertained, but also inspired,” Van Andel said. “Trina is an absolutely amazing, strong woman and is a poignant reminder of why supporting scientific research and, in particular, clinical trials is so very important.” By sharing her story, Taylor hopes to encourage others who are fighting cancer. She serves a patient ambassador at Johns Hopkins, reminding people to stay hopeful and to be open to the idea of clinical trials. Throughout all of her efforts, her slogan, “make memories on purpose” shines through. Its message is simple, but powerful. "Think about what you can do to make a memory today," Taylor said. "Don't let cancer steal your joy. Keep on living." (TOP) CAROL AND DAVID VAN ANDEL WITH TRINA TAYLOR; (BOTTOM) DESIGNER WES GORDON WALKS THE RUNWAY. From the lab to the clinic: Van Andel Research Institute– Stand Up To Cancer Epigenetics Dream Team The VARI–SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team fosters collaboration between several of the world’s most respected research and clinical organizations in an effort to translate scientific discoveries into new standards of patient care. Its goal is to get new and more effective cancer therapies to patients faster. The team currently supports two clinical trials—one in metastatic colorectal cancer and one in the blood cancers myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia—and has several others in development. VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE HIGHLIGHTS OF HOPE | 5

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