RETpositive is working to make RET-fusion cancers a chronic disease through awareness, research and patient support
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RETpositive supports research to advance the understanding and availability of effective treatments for all patients with RET-driven cancer. We harness the scientific and institutional capacity of a range of partners - including Lungevity, the Happy Lungs Project, and the Hamoui Foundation - to identify and fund research projects showing the most potential to benefit RET+ patients.
We provide education and support to RET-patients and caregivers via our private
- RETpositive Facebook group a Pan-RET community for support, collaboration, and to hear the latest updates on research, news and education
- Lungevity RET Renegades, a Facebook group for lung cancer patients impacted by the RET mutation
How we started
Founded in 2021 by the late Dr. Aliye Bricker
RETpositive was founded in 2021 by the late Dr. Aliye Bricker, a neuroradiologist who – prior to her stage IV RET-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) diagnosis – practiced as a staff physician at The Cleveland Clinic. When Aliye was diagnosed in 2015, RET treatment options were very limited and there were no RET patient or advocacy groups.
Aliye drew on her medical education and experience to learn everything she could about RET, connect with researchers in the field, and support caregivers and fellow survivors. After her first-line chemotherapy stopped working, several treatments failed her including a multikinase inhibitor and second-line chemotherapy.
By the summer of 2017, Aliye was entirely dependent on supplemental oxygen and nearly out of options, when she enrolled in a clinical trial for a brand new RET selective TKI (tyrosine kinase inhibitor, a type of targeted therapy). What she referred to as her "hail Mary" resulted in a robust response.
Within weeks she no longer needed oxygen and her response was durable for 3.5 years, during which time she lived an active and full life with her family.
Unfortunately, despite her amazing response, at the end of 2020, scans showed new cancer progression.
Funding research to create change
Without next generation RET inhibitors, few options were available at the time. Aliye became frustrated at what she perceived was lack of interest in and progress with RET, and she admired how other oncogene-driven cancer groups were organizing, advocating, and funding research for their own futures.
Despite her own progression, Aliye dedicated her remaining time to founding RETpositive, a nonprofit patient-driven group dedicated to improving the quality of life and life expectancy of RET-positive cancer patients. With the support of a few other patient and caregiver advocates - including Nicolas Le-Bel and Omaima Hamoui - RETpositive and the Hamoui Foundation, in partnership with Lungevity, created the first RET-focused grants, totalling $1.2 million. Funding research was extremely important for Aliye. To her, as well as other advocates, research means hope.
Aliye, sadly, passed away February 2022. Her legacy lives on in the mission of RETpositive. Our board and volunteers continue to honor Aliye’s legacy and fulfill RETpositive’s mission.