With the hint of fall in the air, a networking group of Angelenos joined the Conscience Cocktails group as they hosted the charity mixer at the Hyatt Regency in Century City. Hosted by Steven Yamin, the group focuses on exposing wonderful charities and the people behind them to Angelenos. While different non-profit charities are featured at each event, tonight's charity was Fight To Live.
We lose 500,000 a year to cancer. 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will have cancer in their lifetime, but many patients fall through the cracks of the system These, people who die every year because drugs are not approved that can help them, are called the Invisible graveyard.
Carla Woods, co-founder of Fight To Live, has been in health care for over 20 years (although she doesn't look it!) She's had many people in her family affected by cancer. Many sources have discovered solutions for the disease, but we have yet to translate it to patient care. Why? It takes 1.5 billion and fifteen years for a drug to be approved by the FDA. Because of this, we are losing our major investors to countries like Australia, Argentina, Germany and the likes. The FDA has a hold on our lives. The FDA is supposed to protect the public health, but the system is outdated and antiquated. "People who are seeking the experimental drugs are forced to travel to Europe for treatment. There is no system for fast tracking the drugs through. New laws must be enacted. "
She related how, in the 1980's, a group of activists stood ground against the FDA. As a result, the floodgates for AIDS medications were released and instead of being an 18 month death sentence, it became an 18 year survival rate.
Karen Jaffe, another co-founder of the group, related how Barbara Koppel, a filmmaker, did a documentary on the Fight to Live cause. The film, just making the rounds of the festival circuit now, will soon be viewable in the major research cities as Boston, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. She warns that our current clinical trial system does not reflect the diversity of the manifestation of cancer and are just looking for that silver bullet cure”.
Why does it take so long for a drug to be approved? FDA's standards are strict. Some say too strict. "Obviously, we don't want drugs with bad side effects sneaking into our system, but terminal patients need to be given the right to chose. Yes, an experimental drug could kill them, but so could the wait and do nothing."
"I doubt that even aspirin would get through with today's regulations," says Woods.
Fight to Live is about saving lives -- possibly your own or someone you love. The fight to Live Coalition is an effort to bring public awareness and drive FDA reform so that current advances in medicine will be available when you need them. Currently, they are supporting H.R 6288 - The Patient Choice Act of 2012. This bill brings earlier access, safely, to promising new treatments that could potentially save thousands of lives. With the right reform, patients should be able to make an informed choice with their physicians when fighting a terminal disease.
Body Painting was done by Star Oakland, who does ceremonial painting, which especially help women with low self esteem. "I do a lot of this just before breast surgery or for women who are survivors of domestic violence or rape. It really helps their image and helps them to come out of themselves." A cancer survivor, herself, Star was diagnosed with leukemia at the tender age of three, but miraculously survived. "I make people feel good about their bodies. I'm a healer." For more information about Star, who often contributes her time to various charities, go to www.staroakland.com.
DJ Jake Webber, who goes by the name of DJ Fracture, keep the beat going throughout the night.
Conscience Cocktails, developed by Steven Yamin, has been active for sixteen years helping to bring to light little known causes or charities that don't have the tools or capital for fundraising. Similar events now happen in New York and Phoenix, AZ. 100% volunteer based, the group has no membership fees but ask for a nominal donation to the charity and a desire to make a difference.
For more information on Fight to Live go to www.facebook.com/FightToLiveOrg
For more information on conscience cocktails go to www.facebook.com/ConscienceEntertainmentGroup