The University of North Carolina has collaborated with the Head for the Cure Foundation to host an annual 5K race that benefits brain tumor research and the UNC Brain Tumor Program (UNCBTP). Dr. Simon Khagi, Director of University of North Carolina Brain Tumor Program, will be participating in the 5K and wearing the Optune device (www.optune.com) on his scalp and the battery backpack as he runs the race. Dr. Simon Khagi is a neurological oncologist at UNC. He holds dual academic appointments in the departments of Medicine and Neurosurgery and is the director of the UNC Brain Tumor Program. I had the pleasure of discussing the upcoming 5K race with Dr. Khagi. To read the interview and learn more, please click on the title.
Q. What is UNCBTP and how long has it been in existence?
A. The UNC Brain Tumor Program has been a part of the Department of Neurosurgery for many years. However, over the past 2 years, the UNCBTP has seen a significant amount of growth with respect to patient volume, clinical trials, and regional visibility. Although we have been a part of UNC for quite some time, we now have an increased presence in the area of brain tumor care and research. All for the benefit of the citizens of North Carolina.
Q. Have there been races like this in the past? If so, how will this race differ from the others?
A. The race and fundraising events were first founded by Matt Anthony in 2003, in honor of his brother who passed away from glioblastoma. The first race was held in Kansas City, and is now held in many cities across the country. The organization partners with local cancer centers and a portion of the money raised goes to benefit their respective brain tumor research efforts. This is the fourth annual Head for the Cure 5K that UNC has put on. At the third annual event, we raised a total of $17,000 to jointly benefit brain tumor research at UNC and the Neuro-Oncology branch at the NCI. In contrast to last year’s event, the race will be held in Chapel Hill. We have also surpassed last year’s attendance record, a number that has been growing steadily every year. By getting the word out about the event and increasing patient volume, we have also raised more money than last year.
Q. Have you participated before – if not, what inspired you to participate this year?
A. I participated in the third annual HFTC event.
Q. Who will benefit from this race?
A. The race benefits the UNC Brain Tumor Program and all the research endeavors that we currently undertake. Funds raised also benefit the Neuro-Oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute.
Q. What can you tell me about some of the other participants?
A. There will be all sorts of runners and walkers at this year’s event. This year has surpassed all previous years, and having it in Chapel Hill will give it a truly local flavor. However, there will be participants coming from all over the state, including patients, families, students, nurses, scientists and doctors; all of whom will be walking/running as a means to raise funds and awareness of brain cancer.
Q. How many teams are there?
A. Currently there are 18 teams and hundreds of participants.
Q. What will the winning team get as a prize?
A. The teams that either raise the most money or have the most participants on their team will be given a commemorative award. However, the team that raises the most money will get the opportunity to shave my head at the event!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
A. If you haven’t already, sign up and join us on September 8th at Southern Village Green in Chapel Hill!
Dr. Simon Khagi will be shaving his head and running with the Optune device for his patients. To participate, click on the link below.