Our Proud History

The Indiana Lions Cancer Control Fund, Inc. began as the first state project in Indiana's Multiple District 25 at the state convention in South Bend, Indiana in 1946. PDG Walter Shirley of the Indianapolis Downtown Lions Club presented a resolution to establish this fund, and it became a permanent project the following year.

The first equipment purchase, in 1947, was a megavolt cobalt unit from U.S. Army surplus after World War II for $50,343. This cancer treatment equipment was obtained for an expanded Department of Radiology at the Indiana University Medical Center, which was dedicated June 12, 1949.

Fund raising efforts and activities continued to grow. During the 1960s, several major equipment purchases were made. For example, 1960: Eldorado Cobalt Stationery unit, 1964: 2 Million Volt Treatment unit, 1968: Picker C-9 Rotational Cobalt-60 unit plus many other smaller purchases of equipment. The Lions of Indiana also contributed to educational and research efforts.

In 1973 the Indiana Lions Cancer Control Fund, Inc. accepted its greatest challenge to date. The purchase of a 40 MeV (million electron volt) Linear Accelerator Sagittaire was purchased for $750,000. When the Sagittaire went on line it was the most powerful radiation treatment machine in the world. It offered a wide range of radiation beam sizes, shapes, energies, and types making it by far the most versatile radiation therapy machine available. The Lions of Indiana also purchased a 1 MeV General Electric therapy unit for $57,000 and other smaller tools to help combat cancer.

Keeping pace with rapidly changing technology the need for a treatment simulator was realized. The Lions responded with this purchase in 1976. The simulator was used in setting up the patient for treatment using safe low energy x-rays and fluoroscopic images for more sophisticated treatment planning. Likewise, Hyperthermia therapy equipment was purchased for $150,000. Hyperthermia is a technique of treating cancer by elevating the body temperature using microwaves both externally and internally.

April 1983 the Lions saw an increased need to help patients battle cancer within the IU Department of Radiation Oncology. The Indiana Lions Cancer Control Fund, Inc. provided the Medical Microton 22. The Microtron was the first of its kind installed in the United States at a total cost of nearly one million dollars. It produced a wide range of electron and photon energies that were used in a broad spectrum of patient treatments.

In 1986 a new dimension was added to the partnership of Indiana University Department of Radiation Oncology and the Indiana Lions Cancer Control Fund, Inc. A patient advocate and liaison, supported by the Indiana Lions was added to provide emotional and non-medical support to the patients and their families. Lion Ira Barker, a member of the Indianapolis Warren Township Lions Club was named to coordinate cancer activities between Lions Clubs and the department. He made himself available to all Lions of Indiana for information and patient referrals. He also assisted the Lions Cancer Control Trustees in preparing materials, programs, and tours of the IU Department of Radiation Oncology. Lion Barker retired in April 1999 and Lion Dottie Flack was hired to continue this service.

Improvements to the Laboratory Research Building were funded in part by Indiana Lions in 1988 for $150,000 and equipment purchases for the lab of 163,935 were given to complete the effort in 1989. Also, in 1991 the Lions provided $150,000 for the Proton Beam Project (Bloomington Cyclotron)

The physicians and physicists of the Department of Radiation Oncology had designed plans for a moving table, which would be used for leukemia and lymphoma patients. This moving table enabled these bone marrow recipients to cut their total body irradiation times in half, while safely shielding their lungs. The plans had been drawn and a source of manufacture had been secured. The husband of a breast cancer patient who had been treated here in the Department had agreed to manufacture the table for a cost of $18,000. However, the modest funding required was not available. Again, in 1996, the Lions of Indiana stepped forward to provide the resources necessary to continue the battle against cancer on behalf of its victims. The moving table has undergone several changes through the years and it continues its original effectiveness while remaining the only one of itsą kind in the world.

The Indiana Lions have raised approximately $4.2 million for the purchase of cancer equipment, education, and research for the Department of Radiation Oncology. This work continues with a current pledge of $1 million toward the purchase of the Gamma Knife and Stereotactic Body Frame. This equipment and the room in which it is housed is a $4.2 million dollar undertaking. The Lions commitment was needed to complete the funding requirement.

The Gamma Knife was activated on September 7, 1997 and is used to treat malignant and benign tumors of the brain. It is also used to treat vascular malformations, and facial pain conditions. The Gamma Knife is the most accurate instrument available to perform radiosurgery on the brain. 201 individual beams of gamma radiation are focused at a precise target leaving healthy tissue unharmed. It can be used on lesions that are hard to reach by other methods and offers the ability to treat complex and irregular shapes rather than a spherical shape. Treatment times will vary with each patient ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours utilizing a local anesthetic and a mild sedative if necessary. This treatment is usually given on an outpatient basis with patients often returning to normal activities the next day. For more information, see Gamma Knife.

The Stereotactic Body Frame was acquired as a part of the Gamma Knife purchase and was the first of this type in the United States. It is used in the treatment of tumors in the chest and abdomen and increases accuracy by reducing body movements. Any movement during a radiation therapy treatment can affect the accuracy of the treatment plan and the treatment itself. The Stereotactic Body Frame can reduce the movements of the patient and insure a more accurate treatment. For more information, see Stereotactic Body Frame.

To acknowledge the Lions of Indiana reaching the halfway point in their one million dollar commitment, the Indiana University School of Medicine hosted an open house at the State Lions Convention in Merrillville, Indiana in April 2000. Marcus Randall M.D. and Robert Timmerman, M.D. addressed the convention to express their appreciation and helped to educate the Lions on the importance of the contributions toward this unique project which benefits so many Hoosiers. Fund raising efforts continue. As of this date, a total of 485 patients have undergone successful Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

( For a more complete listing on equipment purchases by the Indiana Lions Cancer Control Fund, Inc. see, How your money has been used.)