Cancer Awareness, Research, Prevention & Education


Vol. 4: Winter 2023

Presented By

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Welcome to C.A.R.P.E. DIEM

A collaborative effort to raise cancer awareness

 -Brett Hartigan, Monica Hill, Sara Svendsen-

"New year, new me!" We have all said and meant this at several points in our lives… but have we ever stuck to it? Take this year for example. January has come and gone, and yet many of us (*cough cough* yours truly included) feel deflated because our ideals and aspirations were too high. So instead of a "new you" this year, let's focus on a healthier you. Let's also allow ourselves more than just a month to really live up to this New Year's Resolution.

We want to eat more vegetables, get more exercise, read more often; you know, the basic New Year’s Resolutions. But how about making sure you schedule your annual checkup? Or talking to your doctor about health concerns? We think these should join your list. They’re valid…and possibly life-saving!

You may be asking yourself “isn’t this a newsletter about Cancer Awareness, Research, Prevention, and Education? Why are they talking about lifestyle tips?” Well, as you’ll see below, lifestyle can play a HUGE part in preventing and treating cancer. While you can make changes or upgrades at any time of the year, why not start now?

With that, I bid you a Happy, Healthy (and dare I say Hairy?) New Year!


Not Your Average Criminal

The name is Buggsy, Buggsy November and I have been a medical detective and immune system profiler for as long as I can remember. That was an unintentional rhyme. Sometimes you speak in rhymes when you are a detective stereotype, but I digress. I have come across many formidable villains during my time walking the beat. None so deadly and elusive as that punk, Pancreatic Cancer. PC for short. For years, I, and others in the profession, have been searching for a way to take this guy out once and for all, and I think we finally have a break in the case. We just need to find the right fingerprints!

I caught my first break in the case from those geniuses over at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. You see, they were on to something big, something real game changing! The lab coats over there had painstakingly profiled the way pancreatic cancer was preventing a patient’s immune system from fighting back against this villian. You know, those clever doctors could teach me a thing or two about sleuthing. They were able to track down three important proteins that may blow this whole case wide open. 

One of the nastiest things about pancreatic cancer is that it's in a league of its own when it comes to taking out a host's survival mechanisms. Under normal circumstances, an immune system can self regulate by utilizing a series of complex checkpoints, otherwise known as a suppression pathway. These pathways regulate T-cells that would otherwise attack an individual's own tissue. Pancreatic cancer is slippery and knows just how to navigate these pathways. The cancer keeps the suppression system turned on, which exhausts the T-cells and neutralizes the hosts best chance at fighting back and allowing a cancerous tumor to thrive. This process is called a Tumor Immune Microenvironment.

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It's this unnatural ability that makes PC immune to most therapies and a most efficient perp. Over the last 20 years doctors have been seeking different agents that could potentially increase the odds of survival for those unlucky enough to come across PC. To do this they would need to track down the correct combination of checkpoints, otherwise known as the immune fingerprint. Now coming from one detective to another, finding the right fingerprints can be challenging work and what these researchers did was no small feat. They systematically cataloged all of the immune checkpoint proteins that appeared in the tumor immune microenvironment of mice with PC. They also made sure to study treated and untreated samples from patients to ensure whatever evidence they found was relevant.

Through trial and error, these medical sleuths tracked down a combination of antibodies that go by the names of anti-LAG3 and 41BB. By utilizing these two antibodies, they could extend the mouse's survival odds by 20% -30%. A good start, but nowhere near the desired result. So the next logical step was to find a third antibody brave enough to join the crew. In the end, it was a protein that went by the name CXCR2. Seriously, who is naming these guys?! CXCR2 was a savant at recruiting, what we in the business like to call myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Cancer generally uses these cells to turn off T Cells making it easier for cancer to pass through the body's natural checkpoints. Before the doctors added this agent to their concoction they attached an inhibitor to it that would attempt to slow down cancer's manipulation.

While we are still a little ways away from stopping PC completely in its tracks, this trio of drugs shows great promise. Regarding the experiment, the use of these three drugs together raised the survival odds of the affected test mice by an astounding 70%. The best news is that at the end of this trial, none of the remaining mice had any trace of cancer. It's not every day we get good news in this profession, but these results speak for themselves!

If you would like to learn more about this case, click here.

Lifestyle Tips: Being Overweight

Can Excel the Growth Rate of Cancer

Alright ladies and gentlemen, it's time to get both your body and mind moving! Traditional exercise is essential but we like to think reading articles like this and breaking a mental sweat is just as important for your overall health. As your instructor today, it will be my job to whip your mind into shape and fill you in on how a healthy lifestyle can reduce cancer risks. Now let's get to work!

Did you know that an estimated 70% of American adults are overweight or suffer from obesity? This is extra concerning seeing as these factors are commonly linked to cancer.  For example, it has been documented that elevated levels of both estrogen and insulin are greatly believed to be contributing factors in a breast cancer diagnosis. Not only can being overweight lead you down the path to cancer, but it can also affect the treatments you would receive once diagnosed. 

Surgery is a difficult enough treatment to navigate as it is, but when the patient in question is overweight things become increasingly more dangerous. It increases the risks of complications like bleeding, infections, and lymphedema. Obesity can also negatively impact chemotherapy as well. Patients who are obese may request higher doses of chemotherapy to achieve the desired result. Even after receiving treatments, obesity could still play a role in your cancer returning. Worst of all is the stigma that comes with obesity. Unfortunately, this stigma brings with it feelings of fear and self-consciousness that often lead to patients actively avoiding certain medical treatments. Which of course, could lead to a delayed diagnosis and improper adherence to treatment plans.

But enough with doom and gloom, let's refocus our attention on how we can stay healthy and avoid both obesity and cancer to the best of our ability. Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean you need to purchase a Peloton, get a gym membership, or even sign up to work with one of those expensive personal trainers… Simply exercising somewhere between 75-150 minutes per week has been shown to lower the risk of developing certain forms of cancer.

Here are just a few low-impact exercise tips to get you started:

  • Going for a walk. Just get that body moving. You could walk around your neighborhood or go for a short hike in a nearby park. You could sign up for a charity walk and help others while helping yourself. If you don’t feel like going that far, you could simply walk up and down your stairs.
  • Lifting weights. No need to strain yourself by lifting massive dumbbells, but working out with low to moderate free weights at home is a great way to strengthen muscle.
  • Using elastic bands. Now you don’t have to go full Tom Brady with this, but working out with resistance bands at home is an amazing way to stretch and work on your mobility. It is especially useful during the rehabilitation process.
  • Having a healthy and nutritious diet and eating habits. While this is not exercise, having healthy eating habits is just as essential to your overall health. We recommend eating a variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables, avoiding certain calorie-dense foods, and limiting red meats. 
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Let's end today's session on a positive note! Remember exercising both your mind and body will give you the best chances of avoiding both cancer and obesity.

If you would like to learn more about the links between obesity and cancer please check out this article.


Please note, as believable as it may seem, this article was not actually written by a physical trainer of any kind. Additionally, a link between obesity and breast cancer has not been definitively linked. It is vastly believed however that healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce an individual's risk. If you suffer from either obesity or breast cancer we highly recommend that you speak to your healthcare provider before making any dietary changes. Thank you!

Healthier Habits Create a Healthier You

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Time to Test a Theory

As you can see, there appears to be a phantom connection between an unhealthy lifestyle and cancer. We have already discussed how obesity can affect the odds of developing breast cancer, now we’ll throw on our lab coats and explain a detailed experiment that further solidifies this mysterious connection between lifestyle and cancer. More specifically, Colorectal Cancer (CRC).

Recently, our friends from across the pond at the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer (EPIC) conducted an experiment in an attempt to discover the exact correlation between an unhealthy lifestyle and CRC. This experiment was all-encompassing and lasted almost 8 years. There were approximately 300,000 participants ranging from 35-70 years old from all over Europe. The researchers created a measuring table which they called the Healthy Lifestyle Index (HLI). On the HLI they would score participants on things like smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI), and physical activity.  The scores would be tracked by a 0-16 point system. For example, if you never smoked in your life you would acquire 4 points towards your HLI, but if you smoke almost 15 cigarettes a day you will accrue 0 points. The time between the beginning of the experiment and the follow-up questionnaire was almost 6 years. 

One of the big takeaways from this experiment was that there was a significant link between an individual's HLI scores and CRC amongst men. More specifically, a 1 unit increase in HLI score was associated with a 3% lower risk for CRC.

Improvements from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle contributed to a 23% reduced risk in CRC, whereas the opposite showed a 34% higher risk of developing the disease. Additionally, negative changes to your  BMI from the beginning to the completion of the experiment also trended toward an increase in CRC risks. Here are just a few other notable results that came from this experiment alone:

  • A decrease in alcohol consumption was notably associated with a reduction in CRC risks among participants 55 years or younger.
  • An increase in physical activity was closely linked to a decrease in CRC risks, especially among younger participants. 
  • Weirdly enough, a reduction in smoking was associated with an increase in CRC

This experiment is just further proof that having a healthy lifestyle can help lower one's risk of developing cancer.

The smoking result is a strange outlier; smoking in general is never a good option and should be avoided.

If all these numbers and abbreviations are confusing, just try to remember that if you live healthy and well, there is a better chance your odds of developing cancer won’t swell.

Here Comes The Sun

Sometimes all you need is a little sunshine. Or rather, a little bit of the sunshine vitamin, Calciferol. You probably know Calciferol by its nickname, Vitamin D. This sunny and essential vitamin has a litany of positive health benefits like strengthening bones, boosting moods, and bolstering your immune system. But what if we told you that you could also help reduce your risk of contracting Melanoma?

Recently a new study conducted by the North Save Skin Cancer Program uncovered this miraculous health benefit. The discovery was published in December's issue of Melanoma Research. The article itself went into detail about individuals who take Vitamin D supplements regularly may have a lower risk of developing this deadly form of skin cancer. Not only is this discovery remarkable, it is also relevant seeing as cases of Melanoma have increased 31% since 2012.

Despite being a treasure trove of usefulness, Vitamin D is scarcely found in the foods we eat. Some Vitamin D rich foods include fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and some cereals. For that reason, we recommend that you don’t rely solely on your diet to receive the required amount of Vitamin D. While it's true your body can produce Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, it takes quite a lot of exposure during the peak hours of the daylight. While this helps your body develop Vitamin D it also puts you at greater risk of developing many forms of skin cancers.

As the study suggests, the best way to ensure you are meeting the proper daily requirement of Vitamin D is through supplements. So head on down to your local vitamin or supplement store and stock up. Ironically enough staying sunny helps protect you from the sun's more harmful rays.

To learn more about Vitamin D and its powers for Melanoma please check out this article.

Matthew Hill Foundation, Inc is excited to announce that we have been awarded the Gold Seal from Candid in 2023!

Candid (previously Guidestar) is a third-party non-profit organization that offers insight into other non-profits. MHF Inc has received this seal because of our organization’s transparency regarding our financials, leadership, goals, and impact on the people and organizations we serve. If you are interested in any of this information, feel free to check out our profile on Candid’s website here. Or ask us! We are always happy to have a conversation about what we’ve done, where our money is going, and what the future holds!


...does it even matter?

It seems like every time you turn around, there is something new that causes cancer; and medical opinions keep changing about what works and what doesn’t. Not only can it be exhausting, it makes you wonder…what’s the point of awareness, research, prevention, and education? Does it even matter?

The short answer is yes, it does matter.

As a part of Fight CRC's Ambassador Series featured on their Tabooty Podcast, Jelena Tompkins sits down with Fight CRC hosts to discuss how she was able to maintain her fitness during treatment, and how it's different now. Jelena was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer in 2016. She was very active - she even ran a half-marathon months before diagnosis. Throughout the episode, she discusses her fitness journey, the symptoms that lead to her diagnosis, her mental and physical health, and her treatment.

Jelena is now N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease) and bringing hope to us all!

Listen to Jelena's story here.

Hairy Fact: Human hair is used by groups of

eco-friendly volunteers to clean up oil spills.

You can be hairy while being green? That's a win-win if you ask us.

Interested in sponsoring

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2407 S Congress Ave Ste E #245

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. No material in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding cancer or any other material mentioned in this newsletter.