Letting Nicki Go

At one time, Bunny’s life seemed perfect. After her husband retired from the professional tennis circuit, where they traveled with their two children around the world, they packed up and moved to paradise, Florida. But when their sixteen-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, paradise quickly turned into a nightmare. As the family drifted apart, Bunny put her faith in God and fought for her daughter’s life. Letting Nicki Go: A Mother’s Journey through Her Daughter’s Cancer, a gripping memoir, is sure to tug at heart strings as she recounts her daughter’s battle against brain cancer and her own fight to be happy again.

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ASCO 2016 Highlights

Pictures from ASCO 2016

ASCO 2015 Highlights

Pictures from ASCO 2015

ASCO 2014 Highlights

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual meeting in Chicago. It was a “special” occurrence as it marked the Society’s 50th annual congress. It was attended by more than 30,000 doctors and medical professionals from around the world. Also, It featured a large exhibition hall at the McCormick Center in downtown Chicago. Our Foundation was among the exhibitors, with a booth at the Patient Advocacy square. This article, adapted from Care Across (https://www.careacross.com), provides the key outcomes and their impact on patients.

Breast Cancer: 

A large study on the HER-2 positive breast cancer was presented. In particular, it focused on women with this type of breast cancer who have had surgery, and will receive additional drug treatment. The main conclusion was that Trastuzumab remains the most important drug for this group of women. Research on fertility was also among the congress highlights. Premenopausal women with breast cancer who receive chemotherapy, without hormonal sensitivity, can increase the likelihood of childbearing by taking a so-called “LHRH analog” drug.

Ovarian Cancer: 

A study was dedicated to women with serous ovarian cancer (an aggressive form of the tumor) who have previously received Platinum treatment, have relapsed, but are still sensitive to Platinum. In these women, the medications Olaparib and Cediranib, when given together, had better results when compared to the drug Olaparib alone. This finding made doctors optimistic for replacing chemotherapy, or administering it in combination with other drugs.

Lung Cancer: 

A key development concerned patients with lung adenocarcinoma who have the ALK-positive mutation. The targeted drug Crizotinib was found highly effective compared to chemotherapy, as it significantly improved survival without progression of the disease. Similarly, this drug proved effective for patients with adenocarcinoma with significant molecular expression of the MET gene, which is still a rare occurrence.For patients with ALK-positive lung adenocarcinoma, Ceritinib is a new targeted drug which can help. It is also beneficial for those patients who have relapsed following Crizotinib due to development of resistance. For Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) patients, it was found that the targeted drug Ramucirumab improved results of the chemotherapy drug Docetaxel, as second-line therapy. A very significant announcement was made for patients diagnosed with lung adenocarcinoma and the EGFR mutation. In particular, two studies showed that the targeted drug Afatinib had better outcomes compared to chemotherapy.


The combination of drugs Nivolumab and Ipilimumab has been especially effective in trials with patients with advanced melanoma, regardless of a mutation in the BRAF gene. Ipilimumab, which is an approved drug for advanced melanoma, was tested in melanoma patients who had surgery at an early stage, and had a high risk of relapse. Early results showed that the drug reduces the possibility of recurrence. The analysis of the study will continue.

Prostate Cancer: 

For patients with high-risk advanced prostate cancer, adding Docetaxel chemotherapy to hormone therapy was more effective than hormone therapy alone. The results of this study are very important for this group of patients, as they indicate a higher possibility of longer survival.

Colon Cancer:

Patients with advanced colorectal cancer without the K-RAS mutation were treated with parallel administration of either Cetuximab or Bevacizumab, with either FOLFOX or FOLFIRI chemotherapy, and showed similar results. The choice of treatment, therefore, depends on the clinical characteristics of each patient. Results for rectal cancer patients who have been treated with chemo-radiotherapy before surgery were presented as well. After their surgery, these patients benefited from chemotherapy with the addition of Oxaliplatin, when compared to the administration of Fluorouracil or Leucovorin alone.

Thyroid Cancer: 

Patients with differentiated thyroid cancer, which has shown resistance to radioiodine administration, had longer progression-free survival with Lenvatinib.

Carly Fest 2014

Pictures from Carly Fest 2014

2014 ASCO Annual Meeting

Pictures from the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting

Turtle Shells

Olivia Argiro and her family are from Miami, but they were in Ponte Vedra Beach on March 8 for a fundraiser for the Nicki Leach Foundation at Urban Flats.

Olivia was diagnosed with ependynoma, spinal cord cancer, in June 2011. Her search for a cure brought her to the University of Florida Proton Therapy center, Jacksonville. And the Internet took her to the foundation.

“I read [Nicki’s] story on the Internet, and I wrote to the foundation,” Argiro said. Nicki had just turned 17 when she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She battled the disease for three years, and “even though treatment was unsuccessful, she never stopped smiling,” her mother Bunny Leach said.

When Nicki lost her ability to speak or write, she wanted a camera, and photographed everything she loved. “One morning she saw a turtle and followed it around for an hour taking pictures until it stuck its head up and looked right at her, and she got the best picture of all,” Bunny said.

Using the camera, Nicki captured the beauty of the world before she died. In memory of her daughter’s resolve and joyful approach to life, Bunny established the foundation to give grants to 16- to 25-year-old students with cancer. The gift can be used for activities they might not be able to afford, such as college costs or a momentary diversion from the reality of their disease. Olivia is a grant recipient.

At the Urban Flats fundraiser, Bunny also announced the publication of her book. It’s title is Turtle Shells: Heading Through Cancer , it chronicles the turtle story and other heartwarming tales of how Nicki dealt with her struggle. The book is available at barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.

Urban Flats, a Ponte Vedra restaurant known for signature flat breads and an extensive wine list, offers opportunities for nonprofits to earn money from ticket sales for tasting events.

2013 ASCO Annual Meeting

Pictures from the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting

Society for Neuro-Oncology Meeting

NICKI LEACH FOUNDATION presents at the Society for Neuro-Oncology meeting in San Francisco November 19-24