CONTACT: UCSD Cancer Center Foundation Jason Foster,

(858) 822-0023 (619) 594-2585



Bay Area Physician and Big-Wave Hunter Who Helped Treat Sunn

Honored for Extraordinary Cancer-Fighting Efforts

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 14, 2001 — The planning committee of the eighth annual UCSD Cancer Center Luau & Longboard Invitational is pleased to announce that physician and renowned big-wave surfer Dr. Mark Renneker will receive the 2001 Rell Sunn "Queen of Makaha" Award. "Doc," as he is known in surfing circles, will accept the award at the event on Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

The award is named in honor of one of surfing’s most devoted and influential women who died of cancer in 1998. It is given each year to the person or persons who best display the qualities shared by Rell and the UCSD Cancer Center Luau and Longboard Invitational — the battle against cancer combined with unselfishness, compassion, and a true "aloha" spirit. Renneker, now an assistant clinical professor in UC San Francisco’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, has put forth extraordinary efforts to combat cancer in the United States and abroad for more than a quarter-century. Highlights include:

"Doc is a highly respected surfer, but his dedication to help others at home and abroad is what makes him so deserving of the Rell Sunn ‘Queen of Makaha’ Award," said Steve Blank, chairman for this year’s Luau & Longboard Invitational. "He has touched countless lives in his career already, including Rell Sunn herself."

Renneker, working with another physician and Rell’s husband, Dave Parmenter, helped treat Rell over the last months of her 15-year battle with cancer.

"We pursued every imaginable therapy to help her, ranging from mainstream and experimental therapies to alternative and esoteric treatments, and finally to optimizing home hospice care," Renneker said. "It was an honor to have worked with Rell Sunn."

The 8th Annual UCSD Cancer Center Luau & Longboard Invitational, title sponsored by Ericsson, brings together surfing legends, local celebrities and business executives to surf in friendly competition followed by a private Polynesian luau, where the Rell Sunn "Queen of Makaha" Award will be presented. Proceeds from the event benefit the UCSD Cancer Center Foundation. For more information, call the UCSD Cancer Center at (858) 822-0023, or visit


Founded in 1979, the UCSD Cancer Center is one of just 60 centers in the United States to hold a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. As such, it ranks among the top centers in the nation conducting basic and clinical cancer research, and providing advanced patient care. The center’s mission is to translate promising scientific discoveries into new and better options for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and the amelioration of pain. For more information, visit


Editors Please Note: Photo of Mark Renneker and bio information on Rell Sunn available by contacting Jason Foster at 619-594-2585 or