Noelle Ito, a Flintridge Prep alum, class of '98, is a Bark for Life Altadena team captain.
The event raises funds for the American Cancer Society and is part of their successful Relay for Life events, which have spread to more than 20 countries and have raised more than $5 billion for support of cancer patients and research into cures.
But first, journalistic ethics require a disclaimer: Noelle has set this up in honor of the 10th anniversary of the death of our most wonderful son, 2nd Lt. Andrew Torres, USMC.
Andrew graduated from Prep in 1998 and from the Naval Academy in 2002. Our family is profoundly humbled and grateful for the support and love from this town, our friends and his friends.
There are no easy answers for bereavement, but we've all supported cancer research since Andrew's death on April 3, 2004. Andrew was 23 years old.
The first project was for the research of Heinz Josef Lenz, M.D., at USC Norris Cancer Institute. Lenz is an oncologist. He was not specifically researching the rare cancer (HCC) that struck our son, but we wanted to support his research. Right from the beginning, we knew the danger of body-specific limitations.
Rusty Robertson of Stand up to Cancer speaks out against what she calls the "Balkanization" of body parts. It is a fallacy to support one type of solid tumor research over another because it limits research. People say, "my friend had breast cancer, so I support breast cancer research," or "my uncle died of colon cancer, so I donate to colon cancer research."
What if the cure is to be found in less popular, "orphan" disease which is under researched?
Like Rusty, we believe that the key to prostate cancer may be found in pancreatic cancer research, a cure for lung cancer may come out of liver cancer research, and so forth.
Our family and Andrew's friends have organized golf tournaments, cocktail hours and parties to support a variety of nonprofits, including Stand up to Cancer (www.standup2cancer.org), HMRI and the American Cancer Society. We have donated to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ("PanCan"), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and City of Hope.
The latest, Bark for Life, is a hoot because it involves dogs. Thus, Andrew's surviving canine companion, that candy-obsessed, garbage tossing rescue dog, Miss Audrey Hepburn, will finally get to participate instead of eating the chocolate bars from the tee bags and dragging us to the emergency vet, mere hours before Torres Golf tee time. It's about time that Miss Hepburn contributed in a positive way.
Our Bark for Life team is called, "Big Trouble in Little La Cañada." We have a website at www.tinyurl.com/gonavybeatcancer.
Bark for Life involves walking the dogs on Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to noon at Altadena's Farnsworth Park.
There are no Relay for Life (www.relayforlife.com) events scheduled in La Cañada Flintridge, so "Big Trouble in Little La Cañada" at the Altadena Bark for Life is a good choice.
We live in a generous community, with ample opportunities to give back. Bark for Life is one of many ways to contribute, it is one of a "thousand points of light."
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER