The Power of Team Nat Aids in Medical Development
Posted 10/10/2014 12:01PM

Dr. Jimenez and Natalie

In January 2012, Natalie Papadam '00 was diagnosed with paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma, a type of neuroendocrine cancer. Neuroendocrine cancer is among the most difficult types of cancer to detect and people are often misdiagnosed. It is increasingly common, however poorly understood. Many medical professionals have little or no experience with this type of cancer.

Natalie and her friends knew very little of this disease. Natalie's situation prompted them to learn and do more. What started off as 14 friends educating and supporting each other, grew 600 strong and matured into the Team Nat Foundation.

Driven by the Goals instilled through their Sacred Heart Education, the Team Nat Foundation was founded in 2012 by nine Carrollton Alumnae: Kellie Camacho '01, Elizabeth Delgado '00, Victoria Diaz de Villegas '01, Cristina Lago '01, Karina D. Moises '01, Maria Elisa Muñoz '00, Natalie Papadam '00, Adriana Liao Vilhena '00 and Jessica Villar-Signorini '00. It was created to raise funds for neuroendocrine cancer research, bring awareness and to help those affected by this rare type of cancer.

The Team Nat Foundation has a fundraising event every November to raise funds for neuroendocrine cancer research. Since 2012, with the help of their Team Nat supporters, they have donated over $80,000 to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, home to one of the ten Paraganglioma/Pheochromocytoma specialists in the U.S. This past September, the Foundation received a letter from Dr. Jimenez at MD Anderson with news of their latest accomplishments. Their generous contribution aided the development of a new protocol designed to decrease the size of tumors and prevent growth and spread.

An excerpt from Dr. Jimenez's letter to the Team Nat Foundation:

"I am delighted to report that 2014 was a ground-breaking year for patients with malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, as the very first investigator-initiated study was developed. In addition to being comprehensive, this trial is considered highly innovative because it evaluates a fascinating medication called cabozantinib. Cabozantinib is a drug that targets several molecular pathways responsible for growth, tumor spread, and resistance development. Importantly, almost every patient with a progressive malignant pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas can benefit from this drug. The innovative and inclusive qualities of this trial along with the financial support provided by the Team Nat Foundation have encouraged institutional and pharmaceutical regulatory agencies to rapidly approve this trial for application in human beings."

This year's Third Annual Team Nat Foundation Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2014, at the Moore Building in the Design District. It's an evening of dancing, cocktails and a vast silent auction. Past auction items have included local artwork, Heat and Miami Open tickets, concert tickets, signed memorabilia, luxury vacation packages, fashion items and gift certificates for local businesses. For tickets and event information, please visit www.teamnatfoundation.org/events