Cancer Center Council – A Force For Good

By Mary Ballenger Brook

A year ago in July, my husband Steve and I were invited to dinner at Cordillera Ranch by Pam and Art Burdick. Little did we know that this dinner would dramatically change our lives! Steve and I were overwhelmed by the stunning views of the Guadalupe River Valley and evening sunset over the western hills. The beautiful clubhouse and facilities and the friendly, casual atmosphere seduced us – we are now proud members of the club, lot owners and are planning our “forever home” at Cordillera Ranch!!!

Steve is the managing partner of Langley & Banack law firm and I have a wonderfully fulfilling “full-time job” as the current President of the Cancer Center Council (CCC), an all-volunteer organization comprised of 655 dedicated members. Our mission is to support the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. We fulfill this mission through cancer education, community outreach, patient assistance, fundraising and volunteer services.

We’re very proud of our long-standing relationship with the CTRC which began in 1984 when the CCC was founded. As a result of our efforts, we have donated more than $3.5 million to the CTRC, including our current pledge of $1 million to establish the Cancer Center Council Distinguished Chair in Oncology.

The Cordillera Ranch community has embraced and supported the Cancer Center Council in many ways. One of our members, Elaine Palance, will be hosting “More Than Just a Cowboy”, an art show and sale on Saturday, November 10th at the Club, featuring the private collection of paintings by her late husband and actor, Jack Palance. Elaine has selected the Cancer Center Council as beneficiary of the event and will donate a portion of the art sales and ticket sales to our organization. Other CCC members who live in Cordillera Ranch include Jan and Frank Newton, Jenny Hartsell, Linda and Thomas McCloskey, Jan Pieper, Lisa Rall and Giva Frashier. We are grateful for our Cordillera Ranch members and thank them for their support!

We’re thrilled to invite you to participate in our primary fundraising event, the Partners Shopping Card. For the past thirteen years, this program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the cancer center. Partners Shopping Cards may be purchased for $50 and the cardholder is entitled to receive a 20% discount at hundreds of participating retailers and restaurants during the tenday shopping period, October 19 – 28.

For twenty-one years, Coleen Grissom, one of Cordillera Ranch’s own, continues to be the “Ms. of Ceremonies” for the San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon benefiting the CTRC Phase I Clinical Research Program. This fundraiser features six best-selling authors who speak to more than 1,000 attendees about their latest books, which can be purchased and autographed at the event. Cancer Center Council volunteers serve as co-chairs and committee members for the event and conduct the raffle. This year’s luncheon will be held at the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel on Monday, October 8 at 11:30 a.m. (book sales open at 10:00). We welcome you to visit for more information or to purchase a ticket or table. This event sells out quickly every year, so you will not want to miss it!

Our Annual Spring Luncheon raises funds for the CTRC Patient Assistance Fund. The Patient Assistance fund provides help to cancer patients who are in need of lodging, food supplements, dietary intervention, transportation and social services. Last year’s event raised approximately $50,000. Our next CCC Spring Luncheon will be held at the Omni Hotel Colonnade on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. The keynote speaker will be Steve Ford, former “First Son” and actor, who will speak about the impact of cancer on his life after his mother, Betty Ford’s cancer diagnosis and other stories from the White House and Hollywood.

The CCC also provides volunteer services in the CTRC clinics and at various community outreach and educational programs including the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. This is an international scientific symposium for the exchange of research and information among more than 7,500 breast cancer scientists and clinicians from nearly 100 countries. This year marks the 35th anniversary and held on December 4-8, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

The Cancer Center Council has recently become a member of the Boerne Chamber of Commerce. We’re excited to begin this new partnership with the BCC and will have our “Ribbon Cutting Ceremony” at the Boerne Chamber of Commerce on August 21 at 2:00 p.m. We hope you’ll join us in the celebration!

As you can see, we are a very busy and hard-working group of volunteers who are passionate about advancing the CCC’s goals and mission to support the CTRC. All of us are committed to one purpose which is to assist and offer care to those who are suffering the daily physical, emotional and financial stresses of cancer; and to provide resources to develop effective new treatments and therapies for cancer patients, and ultimately, find a cure!

At the end of this calendar year, I will have the honor and privilege of “passing the gavel” of the CCC Presidency to the very capable and multi-talented Pam Burdick. Pam’s hard work and devotion to the Cancer Center Council have been exemplary and I have enjoyed working with her over this past year to initiate several new and exciting programs for the CCC. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve as President of this amazing group of men and women who work so tirelessly for the cause!

If you are interested in learning more about the Cancer Center Council, want to become a member, or purchase a Partners Shopping Card, please call (210) 450-5571 or visit our website at

Mary Ballenger Brook, President – Cancer Center Council

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