Around Town: Getting prepared for Bark for Life

March 19, 2014|By Anita S. Brenner

Noelle Ito, a Flintridge Prep alum, class of ’98, is a Bark for Life Altadena team captain.

The event raises funds for the American Cancer Society and is part of their successful Relay for Life events, which have spread to more than 20 countries and have raised more than $5 billion for support of cancer patients and research into cures.

But first, journalistic ethics require a disclaimer: Noelle has set this up in honor of the 10th anniversary of the death of our most wonderful son, 2nd Lt. Andrew Torres, USMC.


Andrew graduated from Prep in 1998 and from the Naval Academy in 2002. Our family is profoundly humbled and grateful for the support and love from this town, our friends and his friends.

There are no easy answers for bereavement, but we've all supported cancer research since Andrew’s death on April 3, 2004. Andrew was 23 years old.

The first project was for the research of Heinz Josef Lenz, M.D., at USC Norris Cancer Institute. Lenz is an oncologist. He was not specifically researching the rare cancer (HCC) that struck our son, but we wanted to support his research. Right from the beginning, we knew the danger of body-specific limitations.

Rusty Robertson of Stand up to Cancer speaks out against what she calls the “Balkanization” of body parts. It is a fallacy to support one type of solid tumor research over another because it limits research. People say, “my friend had breast cancer, so I support breast cancer research,” or “my uncle died of colon cancer, so I donate to colon cancer research.”

What if the cure is to be found in less popular, “orphan” disease which is under researched?

Like Rusty, we believe that the key to prostate cancer may be found in pancreatic cancer research, a cure for lung cancer may come out of liver cancer research, and so forth.

Our family and Andrew’s friends have organized golf tournaments, cocktail hours and parties to support a variety of nonprofits, including Stand up to Cancer (, HMRI and the American Cancer Society. We have donated to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (“PanCan”), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and City of Hope.

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