School of Dentistry ‘Team’ Trains, Raises Funds to Benefit People with Leukemia, Lymphoma

They spend their days immersed in the underlying causes of head and neck cancer, studying tumor viruses and performing research that may one day lead to cures.

But in recent weeks, three members of Dr. Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque’s laboratory group at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry have committed themselves to an additional path to a cancer cure: Each is preparing for an endurance event as a member of the Triangle area’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training.

The national organization’s Team in Training is recognized as the world’s largest endurance sports training program. Since 1988, according to the organization’s Web site, 295,000 volunteer participants have helped raise more than $660 million toward a cure for blood cancers and toward helping patients and their families.

The Webster-Cyriaque laboratory team members are:

  • Dr. Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, associate professor of dental ecology in the School of Dentistry and of microbiology in the School of Medicine;
  • Dr. Terry Morris, research associate professor in the School of Medicine; and
  • Dr. Elizabeth “Liz” Andrews, an oral and maxillofacial pathology graduate student in the School of Dentistry.

Both Webster-Cyriaque and Morris also are members of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Andrews plans to run the 26.2-mile Nike Women’s Marathon, to be held Oct. 22 in San Francisco. Webster-Cyriaque and Morris plan to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (13.1 miles) Sept. 3 in Virginia Beach, Va.

“Not only do we make this contribution to fighting cancer with what we do every day, but here’s our opportunity to take our commitment out to the streets,” said Webster-Cyriaque.

Since the team formed about seven weeks ago, they have dedicated themselves to regular training and fund-raising – with the help of members of their lab group, friends and family members. Upcoming fund-raisers include a $50 gasoline raffle, with tickets at $2 each. The raffle will be held Aug. 5.

Morris said that during a recent beach vacation, her family rented a home next to a couple from Connecticut and discovered that the couple’s son had died from cancer. He also had participated in the Team in Training. Morris will wear his name on a ribbon attached to her jersey during her race.

“I feel that our research is about trying to find a cure, and research takes a long time. I felt I could do something else in the meantime, where I could make an immediate contribution,” said Morris.

Andrews said she had witnessed a friend’s 10-year battle with lymphoma; on her Team in Training Web site, she has written, “All of us on Team in Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives.”

For more information on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, visithttp://www.teamintraining.org/hm_tnt.