Swing Against Cancer 2024 breaks records, raises $220,000 for research (2024)

Erika Z. Byrd

The 2024 Quinn Brady Memorial Swing Against Cancer Golf Tournament broke several records — more golfers, more evening event attendees and the highest funds raised in a single tournament since the event's inception in 2014, $220,000.

Tournament chair Bill Poland attributes the record-breaking funds and attendance to a new event venue — the PGA Tour course of La Quinta Country Club — an exciting silent auction and a record-setting $60,000 paddle raise. But, of course, the main attraction is always supporting the ground-breaking work of physicians and scientists at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Coinciding with the April 8 partial eclipse, it was an historic day all around, as attendees showered glowing praise of the golf course, service, food and the overall mission of USC Norris: "Making cancer a disease of the past."

The lineup for the evening event included a silent auction, dinner, a paddle raise and two speakers — a physician who provided updates on cancer research and a patient who received treatment at USC Norris.

Swing Against Cancer 2024 breaks records, raises $220,000 for research (2)

Bob Corwin's cancer story began with a breast cancer diagnosis in 2004 — one of the few male breast cancer diagnoses due to genetic mutation. He shared about his many health challenges over the years, finally landing in the expert care of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center — just in time to save his life.

Because of the BRCA gene mutation, Corwin was also at risk for prostate cancer and developed an aggressive and rare bladder cancer. After a few years of screening and one simple procedure at another medical facility, his doctor told him the cancer had not left the bladder lining and had not migrated elsewhere in his body. He wasn't convinced and consulted a pathologist who confirmed his suspicions that the cancer had, in fact, spread throughout his body.

Distraught, he and his wife, Terry, networked and contacted people all over the country. One name came up repeatedly — Elia Skinner, MD, a former USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center surgeon. She gave him a glimmer of hope — a slight chance of survival if he endured a rigorous chemotherapy treatment and an eight-hour surgery to remove his bladder, prostate and reconstruct a new bladder from a 24-inch segment snipped from his small intestine.

The procedure was successful. That was in 2010. Corwin has now been cancer-free for 14 years, and he and his wife are ever grateful for the care he received at USC Norris.

Swing Against Cancer 2024 breaks records, raises $220,000 for research (3)

"From what I understand, despite the fact that my type of cancer is still a very rare and serious cancer, there are advances and much more targeted therapies today," Corwin told the supporters. "Progress is being made. I am absolutely confident that USC Norris is an outstanding place for any patient who has to face the unknown."

Commenting on the care he received, he remarked, "Everyone I saw was accessible. No one at USC is too important or too high on the hierarchy to avoid actually seeing patients and being concerned about them."

The physician speaker was Casey O'Connell, MD, an associate professor of hematology at the Keck School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles and chair of hematology at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. After presenting an engaging audience participation exercise about statistics in cancer research and drugs, O'Connell told those in attendance, "The research you all are funding is very special. It's not the same research that's funded by drug companies, and often, it's also not the same research that's funded by the NIH (National Institutes of Health). It's the research that we do in these academic centers that spurs new findings and developments."

She gave one example of a patient who had three different cancers and by the time he was referred to USC Norris had myelodysplastic syndrome. His life expectancy was six months. O'Connell was able to get him in as the last patient in a clinical study.

"Ultimately, because of him, we discovered a biomarker that predicated a response to immune therapy. This was an unexpected finding we've been able to take forward in the lab. And now, nine years later, he's still alive."

Swing Against Cancer 2024 breaks records, raises $220,000 for research (4)

To learn more about the exciting work of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit uscnorriscancer.usc.edu. A brief video highlight of the tournament is available at vimeo.com/933842951/3acbdce798?share=copy.

The date of the 2025 Swing Against Cancer tournament will be confirmed soon. To get on the mailing list for details about next year's events, contact Bill Poland at bill@bill-poland.com or (310) 291-7179.

Erika Z. Byrd is a freelance writer and can be reached at erikabyrd.com.

Swing Against Cancer 2024 breaks records, raises $220,000 for research (2024)
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