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IACAN Gala 2018: Inspiring & Fun

IACAN Board Members with the Gala Emcee and Gala Chair at the biennial gala on Saturday, September 8, at the Red Oak Ballroom-City Centre. From left: Anasuya Kabad (emcee), Monalisa Chandra, Raju Nandagiri, Arlene Thomas (IACAN President), Vibhuti Shah, Sarvesh Bhavaraju, Kanchan Kabad (Gala Chair), Dipika Varia, Ashma Moosa, and Dr. Jagan Sastry.

IACAN Board Members with the Gala Emcee and Gala Chair at the biennial gala on Saturday, September 8, at the Red Oak Ballroom-City Centre. From left: Anasuya Kabad (emcee), Monalisa Chandra, Raju Nandagiri, Arlene Thomas (IACAN President), Vibhuti Shah, Sarvesh Bhavaraju, Kanchan Kabad (Gala Chair), Dipika Varia, Ashma Moosa, and Dr. Jagan Sastry. Photos: Bijay Dixit

HOUSTON: The Indian American Cancer Network (IACAN) celebrated its biennial gala with the theme of “Empowering Mind and Body” on Saturday, September 8, at the Red Oak Ballroom-City Centre.  The gala was attended by over 375 guests who praised the event as well organized, inspiring, and fun.  

The evening began with a social hour while guests mingled with one another, browsed balloon pop prizes, and enjoyed appetizers.  After the guests were ushered into their seats in the ballroom, the program began with the auspicious lighting of the lamp ceremony followed by Mani Sastry’s melodious invocation song that transformed the ambiance into one of peace and tranquility.  The emcee, Anasuya Kabad, eloquently set the stage for a beautiful evening.  The program began with remarks from the Gala Chair, Kanchan Kabad about her personal connection to IACAN’s mission. Arlene Thomas, President of IACAN, highlighted the accomplishments for the past two years in conducting community outreach programs, survivor activities, and bone marrow registration drives.  She also reported on IACAN’s past and forthcoming collaborative health studies, and closed with a request to stay engaged with IACAN and its community service activities.  The audience was inspired by IACAN’s work in providing mammograms to uninsured and underinsured South Asian women.  

The Keynote Address by Dr. Patrick Hwu

The Keynote Address by Dr. Patrick Hwu

The evening continued with reflections from Vibhuti Shah as a cancer survivor and currently serving as a Board Member of IACAN. This was followed by Raji Sabhapathy’s narration of her experience as a caregiver, which was heartwarming.  

The Keynote Address by Dr. Patrick Hwu, Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center, was an informative talk explaining in simple terms how immunotherapy, the most recent revolution in cancer care is being used by him and others in the clinic.  He explained how patients own T cells, a major architects of the immune system, are trained and used to destroy cancer cells.  Because each patient‘s cancer is unique, empowering his or her own cells to eliminate cancer cells is the novelty and superiority for personalized cancer care.

Bone marrow donors were recognized, Ayesha Khan, Zain Kassam, and Fouzia Mohammad.  The awards were presented by Gaytri Kapoor (left), Advisory Board Member of IACAN.

Bone marrow donors were recognized, Ayesha Khan, Zain Kassam, and Fouzia Mohammad.  The awards were presented by Gaytri Kapoor (left), Advisory Board Member of IACAN.

Kalaangan School of Odissi presented Raktabeeja Badh, an Indian classical dance drama.  The unique composition represented the daily struggle of cancer patients and their caregivers, through the story of the demon Raktabeeja.  The dance drew a parallel between the evil of cancer and the character of Raktabeeja, and stressed on management strategies through the portrayal of the collaboration of the two goddesses, Durga and Kali, who annihilated the demon through strategic coalition.  The team of dancers that included Supradipta Datta, Madhuri Vasudevan, Diksha Rath, Trisha Chatterjee, Maumita Sadhukhan, Anushri Gupta and Krisha Rath mesmerized the audience with their presentation.

Kalaangan School of Odissi presented Raktabeeja Badh, an Indian classical dance drama.

Kalaangan School of Odissi presented Raktabeeja Badh, an Indian classical dance drama.

The next part of the evening showcased the honorees of the evening.  Dr. Jagan Sastry, Board Member of IACAN, introduced and highlighted the work of the Lifetime of Service awardees, Dr. James Allison, who pioneered the cancer immunotherapy approach, and Dr. Sewa Legha, a longtime member of the IACAN’s medical advisory board, who provides constant and unwavering support.

IACAN also recognized three bone marrow donors, Ayesha Khan, Zain Kassam, and Fouzia Mohammad.  The awards were presented by Gaytri Kapoor, Advisory Board Member of IACAN, who is actively involved in the recruitment of bone marrow donors. Fouzia Mohammad spoke about her experience as a donor.  

Chaplain Stephen M. Findley facilitated a laughing yoga session.

Chaplain Stephen M. Findley facilitated a laughing yoga session.

The evening’s program ended with a big laugh!  Chaplain Stephen M. Findley facilitated a laughing yoga session that had the guests filled with laughter and joy.  

IACAN is grateful for the support of its volunteers, donors, and the community.  

For more information about IACAN, please visit www.iacannetwork.org

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