John Abrams Gets Creative with Cooking to Fight Cancer!

GIST Mentor & Board Member John Abrams is hosting a personal fundraiser to benefit the LRG’s patient education programs & resources and GIST research. A longtime GIST advocate and supporter of the work the LRG does, John is putting his best efforts & passion into this event with help from the team at The Life Raft Group.

Would you like to attend Cooking to Fight Cancer in Centennial, Colorado on October 28?
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Cooking to Fight Cancer 2023

Can’t attend the event but would like to support John in his fundraising efforts?

donate button for Holiday Campaign 2022

After orchestrating the event at Uncorked Kitchen, set for October 28, 2023 from 6pm to 9m, John sent a personal note to a large group of friends which said:

Dear Friends,

You’ve probably never heard of GIST. I know I hadn’t back on February 14, 1997, when doctors removed a grapefruit-size tumor from my stomach that later was determined to be a very rare cancer called GIST or gastrointestinal stromal tumor.

Since that day 26 years ago, I’ve gone through two additional cancers, numerous surgeries, as well as chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For the past 20 years I have been on one of the earliest cancer “wonder drugs”–Gleevec. Along with countless CTs, MRIs and other scans, I experience side effects from that life-saving medication; including hand cramps so severe that I had to retire from dentistry. Still, when people tell me they are sorry I’ve had such bad luck, I tell them:

“I feel like I’m the luckiest, unlucky guy I know.”

“Unlucky” because I’m one of only about 5,000 people in the U.S. who are diagnosed with this rare cancer every year.

“Lucky” because, in my journey over the past 26 years, I’ve had access to top medical professionals and because I’m surrounded every day by the love and support of my amazing wife and children, my two brothers, and my wide network of friends. I’m also lucky in having connected with the Life Raft Group, a nonprofit whose sole mission is to support people living with GIST.

The Life Raft Group has become so important to me that I’ve joined its Board of Directors, and on October 28th I am hosting a fundraiser here in Denver. At Cooking to Fight Cancer, together we will prepare a spectacular meal under the guidance of a professional chef and then enjoy the fruits of our labor. I invite you to attend or, if you can’t, to make a contribution to the Life Raft Group.

“Patient-powered” is our mantra. What started as a support group where patients could share their stories and advice has now evolved into a global organization that last year reached over 20,000 people in more than 100 countries. We know that, in addition to guidance from physicians and experts, every GIST patient benefits from the experience of other GIST patients. We also help connect the dots between GIST patients and the researchers who are looking for new treatments and ultimately a cure. (62% of our budget is to support research and we have invested a total of more than $15 million so far.) You can find out much more about the Life Raft Group at

Being part of the LRG community has helped me in numerous ways, starting with the fact that I know I am not alone in coping with GIST. Through the Life Raft Group, I connect with hundreds of other patients and have access to the knowledge of top experts in this field. This empowers me to make suggestions to my own physicians about treatment options. In 2022, we discovered some lesions in my liver where my GIST had metastasized. With the help of the LRG, I learned of a procedure called Y-90, and my doctors endorsed that idea and were able to eliminate the tumor that had been growing.

Of all the benefits I’ve gotten from the Life Raft Group, my favorite has to do with pickle juice. That’s right – pickle juice – not some sophisticated drug or cutting-edge treatment. One of my side effects from Gleevec is severe cramps, typically in my hands and legs. They immobilize me and are quite painful. After years of trying a variety of unsuccessful remedies, a fellow GIST patient advised me that drinking pickle juice might alleviate the cramps. There are several theories as to why it might work, but rest assured I never go anywhere without a few vials of pickle juice.

Please join me on my October 28th fundraiser, Cooking to Fight Cancer, for food, fun and a fantastic organization, the Life Raft Group.

Thank you for listening to my story, and I thank you in advance for your support.

John Abrams

–  Warm Regards, John Abrams

John is one of the many GISTers who has gone beyond donating and has used his talent and passion to create a fundraising vehicle to further GIST research. Since May, when we began our Fueling GIST Research campaign, 10 other GIST advocates have used personal fundraisers to raise fund towards the work of the LRG. If you would like to create your own personal fundraiser, please reach out to Diana Nieves, Chief Development & Involvement Officer, at

Be inspired by the amazing success of the Fueling GIST Research campaign’s results, and by the journey of other GIST patients & caregivers as they pursue a cure for GIST and new treatments by furthering GIST research through fundraising.