Innovative Methods: Twist Out Cancer

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IMRIC and You

Molly Livingstone

Molly Livingstone

Molly Livingstone never did well at science, but that hasn’t stopped her from appreciating it. Here at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) she is able to witness first-hand, the innovative breakthroughs changing the face of medicine, on a daily basis. Living in Israel, Molly has the opportunity of visiting the IMRIC labs, talking with the students and faculty about their latest research, and getting to know the people behind these great minds.

Jenna, cancer survivor
Jenna Benn

I was recently at a conference and met a woman with a super cool haircut. The kind of cut that makes you forget to introduce yourself and rather just go right up to a person and say, "wow I love your hair." At the time that I met her (or at least complimented her), I didn't know that this person is a cancer survivor.

Jenna Benn, the girl with awesome hair, is a lymphoma survivor and an innovator. Jenna took her cancer and did something with it. As Jenna says, "with virtually no statistics and no research I was really left to sort of create my own story." After she finished her treatment she decided she wanted to give back.

Jenna wanted people to join her on the dance floor and twist our cancer. She wanted people to literally put on their dancing shoes and twist. The response was incredible, with hundreds of videos of people twisting in support. Jenna had not only created a story, she connected those dealing with cancer, survivors, friends and family, in what can be a very isolating experience. She didn't stop dancing. In fact she expanded the idea through social media and the founding of Twist Out Cancer (TOC). The TOC website provides a forum through which anyone affected by cancer can share thoughts, experiences, stories, and insights, allowing for the exchange of ideas, encouragement, and wisdom from one community member to another.

The website gives people the opportunity to create their own stories with a profile page and distinguish their own "twist" on cancer. As the site states, "it is a living, changing, active, and personalized digital legacy that encourages loved ones to give, and survivors to share."  Twists can be something as simple as a food recipe to art challenges, whatever speaks to the person. 

Jenna's innovation has touched lives. Just like her creative spirit, researchers at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) strive to touch lives with innovative research. The students and professors that I meet in labs have their own version of twisting out cancer. Their basic research is the essence of creativity. They are looking for the new and novel methods that could cure cancer.

From the survivors to the researchers, it is evident that innovation is a key element in living with cancer and eventually curing it.