In a waiting room at MD Anderson, just minutes after recovering from a seizure during a pre-operative brain MRI, James Broach sits with his wife, Jamie, by his side. The Houston couple’s smiling faces serve as a positive contrast to their situation. Together, they share the inspirational story of the foundation they started to fund brain cancer research and offer hope to others.
“I feel it’s a calling for me,” says James. “We’re passionate about wanting to make a difference for other patients and to give back to MD Anderson for such great care.”
The couple established the Broach Foundation for Brain Cancer Research in November 2011, just a few months after James was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that has no known cure. Its survival rate is low, due in part to inadequate funds for clinical research. In an attempt to change the statistics, the foundation’s inaugural grant will support the research of James’s physician, Frederick Lang, M.D., director of clinical research in MD Anderson’s Department of Neurosurgery.
“Research drives the whole process,” says Lang, “and without research, we’re not going to make an impact on tumors.”
Fighting cancer with laughter
Brain cancer is no laughing matter. But for the Broaches, laughter and a positive outlook are powerful weapons in their fight against the disease.
“James has an infectiously positive attitude,” says Jamie. “To him, the glass is always half full, not half empty.”
In that spirit, the couple decided on a comedy-themed gala as their first fundraiser and appropriately called it Stand-Up for Brain Cancer. They called on actor, comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kevin Nealon to entertain a sold-out crowd at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston, raising $950,000.
“The more we spread the news about Dr. Lang’s research and how underfunded brain cancer is, the more excited people became about wanting to join the cause,” says Jamie.
The Broaches are committed to reaching a $1 million goal by Christmas 2012.
“This is all part of a bigger plan for us and our foundation,” says James. “Trying to help a greater cause, whether it’s brain cancer research or MD Anderson or Houston, has been very rewarding.”