A month after Dr. Matt McManus of Austin, Texas, lost his mother to leukemia, he joined LLS as the 2016 Austin Light The Night Corporate Walk Chair. In her honor, he is helping to fund research to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
Dr. McManus’s dedication is not just personal. As the CEO of Asuragen, a molecular diagnostics company, he is in the business of providing solutions to drive better treatment for cancer patients. Asuragen is a global diagnostic products company and sponsor of LLS’s Austin Light The Night Walk (November 12).
What is Asuragen’s latest innovation for leukemia patients?
Last month, Asuragen received FDA clearance for a new diagnostic kit for monitoring of response in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients, which will help physicians monitor how a patient is responding to treatment. It is the first and only FDA-cleared molecular test for monitoring CML patients.
CML is unique in that it is caused by a change in a single gene called BCR-ABL (also known as the Philadelphia Chromosome). The diagnostic kit monitors the amount of this gene in the blood from cancer cells to help physicians understand if targeted therapies are working. This has the potential to help significantly improve the cost and standard of care for patients.
How did your company become involved in Light The Night?
Asuragen sponsored the Light The Night Walk in Austin last year. After completing a local triathlon, I came upon the LLS booth. While there, I spoke with the volunteers and decided that I wanted to be involved personally, and discuss a corporate sponsorship opportunity.
A few weeks later, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. That October, the Light The Night walk in Austin was canceled due to terrible storms. As a corporate sponsor, we decided that the show must go on. We held a mini walk at our office a few weeks later. Our employees carried illuminated lanterns – white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancer. Sadly, my mother passed away that December.
What started as an employee engagement activity that fit our mission has become something much bigger than that for me on a personal level. This year, I am honored to serve as the Light the Night Corporate Walk Chair. We are aiming to field a team of at least 100 people. For a company of 140, that is a lofty participation goal!
What does participating mean for your employees?
Many of our employees have a personal connection to blood cancer and we are committed to being an active voice and presence in the cancer community working toward a cure.
One of our employees lost her husband to leukemia, and she still speaks passionately about the support she and her family received from LLS during such a difficult time. We are all motivated by LLS’s mission and consider it a privilege to be able to help fund lifesaving research and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.