The Abigail Alliance was incorporated in the state of Virginia in November of 2001. However, the Alliance really started in early March of 2001 when Abigail, who had just turned twenty-one, had run out of conventional options in her battle against cancer, and was being treated at Johns Hopkins. Abigail's very talented oncologist urged us to try and get the EGFR targeted drug C225 (Erbitux) from small Imclone Systems or Iressa from very large Astra Zeneca. Abigail's cancer cells had a very high EGFR expression and her oncologist strongly felt these drugs had a very significant chance of saving her life.
Abigail was still strong then as we worked hard and intelligently and launched, with Abigail's involvement and help, a three-pronged approach. We lobbied the two pharmaceutical companies with much vigor including getting help from some very influential people. Then we worked hard and furiously to solicit Congressional help. With Abigail, we launched a media effort that resulted in numerous stories in the press. As tired and weak as she was, Abigail did multiple newspaper and television interviews. Through those difficult times Abigail's devoted Mom Kathleen Dunn and Step Dad Gene Krueger did so much to care for Abigail, comfort Abigail, and to help her keep as much independence as possible.
Abigail died on June 9, 2001, just a week and half after doing an extensive interview with Dale Solly of ABC WJLA TV. Abigail's words in the TV piece echo the Abigail Alliance mission when she said, "This is not just about me. I am trying to help so many others."
Ten hours after the most horrible tragedy I could have ever imagined, I decided that I would continue with my efforts. The only way I can describe that moment is that it was an epiphany.
After the third 'Washington Post' story on June 12, 2001, I came into contact with Doug Baxter whose sixteen year-old son, David, was battling colorectal cancer. David lost his brave battle on October 6, 2001. Doug testified with me before Representative Dan Burton's Government Oversight Committee on June 20, 2001. Doug is also on the Abigail Alliance Board of Directors. During the four-hour hearing on the issue of expanded access – compassionate-use, I was asked by Representative Burton as to whether I was mad at the pharmaceutical companies. My reply was, "We do not need any enemies regarding better access to developmental life saving drugs. We need the help of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Government, and others to help solve this problem".
The Abigail Alliance is moving forward. We have been speaking at major meetings, promoting creative ideas at the FDA and on Capitol Hill, getting information out to the public, and directing cancer patients to reliable sources for further information.
-Abigail's Dad, Frank Burroughs