DANVILLE, CA. – Raising awareness about the danger cancer poses to minorities is the driving force behind a new partnership between Dana Dornsife, founder and president of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, and legendary R&B artist Lenny Williams.
The two have teamed up to urge minorities to take preventative measures through cancer screenings and to take part in clinical trials that may save the lives of those who have been diagnosed with cancer.
“Cancer is a disease that knows no boundaries,” said Dana Dornsife of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. “It strikes people regardless of race, sex, socioeconomic class or age. Each year, however, more minorities die from cancer-related illnesses than whites.”
Why is this?
There are a number of reasons why minorities are more likely to die from cancer than others, Dornsife said. Many of these reasons can be overcome with awareness about the help that is available, Dornsife added.
“The participation rate for African Americans in clinical trials is very low,” said Williams. “It is vital that the word about clinical trials gets out.”
Williams said African American participation in trials is traditionally low because of mistrust and misunderstanding in the community about cancer detection and treatment. These obstacles are often compounded by financial concerns and the belief that minorities will be mistreated by medical professionals.
“It is our goal to remove these obstacles and help minorities understand there is assistance available to them,” Dornsife said. “Clinical trials open doors to medical breakthroughs that might have otherwise been closed.”
Dornsife points to the story of 14-year-old Brittani. She was diagnosed several years ago. As a young athlete, Brittani’s initial complaints of back pain were not taken all that seriously. When the pains continued, the tumor was discovered.
Brittani underwent a series of surgeries and treatments, but none of the efforts were successful. Doctors finally told Brittani’s mother there was nothing more that could be done. It was recommended that the surgeries be stopped. The family, doctors said, should “let nature take its course.”
While searching the internet for alternatives, Brittani’s mother came across an ongoing clinical trial in Los Angeles. The clinic in LA pointed the family to Lazarex Cancer Foundation when concerns were raised about affording the frequent trips from Sacramento. Brittani was entered into the trial in hopes of finding the cure they so desperately wanted.
Today, Brittani is a healthy 14-year-old girl. The tumor that almost took her life is not detectable on scans.
“Brittani’s story illustrates the need for minorities to become active in and more aware of clinical trials,” Dornsife said. “These studies can save lives. In Brittani’s case, her prognosis went from hopeless to healthy.”
Lazarex Cancer Foundation was formed to build a bridge to hope, dignity and life for end stage cancer patients and their families. It provides financial assistance to defray the costs associated with patient participation in FDA clinical trials. Additionally, it helps patients navigate their clinical trial options and provides community education and outreach services.
Stories like Brittani’s and the unacceptably higher minority death rates from cancer have led the foundation to embark on a new mission to incorporate outreach to minority communities into its overall focus, to raise awareness about the importance of cancer screenings for early detection, when the odds of beating the disease are the best, and of clinical trials as a resource for possible life extension and remission when all else has failed.
Through the partnership with Williams and the telling of Brittani’s story, Dana Dornsife hopes to spread the word that “cancer is colorblind and needs to be addressed for all populations”.

For more information about Lazarex Cancer Foundation, call 925 820-4517 or visit www.Lazarex.org.

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Author writes on many subjects including new treatments for cancer.