Daily Archives: October 5, 2012

Great just got better still

On several occasions over the past few years, David and I have tossed around the possibility of moving back west. At one point, he mulled over a very good job offer in California. In addition, we’ve always felt a strong westward pull toward my family, who aside from Jemesii and Jamie, are scattered between Colorado, Texas, Utah and Alaska. “Why don’t you just move to St. George?” my mom has asked. “We have a really good hospital.”

And there’s the catch. I am still alive because I am a patient at not just a good hospital, but a really great hospital, a hospital where so far, research has managed to stay one step ahead of my cancer.

Well, that really great hospital has gotten even better. On Tuesday I attended the opening of the Henri and Belinda Termeer Center For Targeted Therapies. The event began with a symposium in the Ether Dome, located in the Bullfinch Building at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Jose Baselga (who is leaving MGH to take over the helm as Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) spoke of the impact targeted therapies have had in the redesign of clinical trials.

Dr. Robert A. Weinberg, who was instrumental in the isolation of both the first human oncogene, ras, as well as Rb, the first known tumor suppressor gene, addressed the natural evolution from early identification of oncogenes to the development of targeted therapies.

And then Dr. Keith Flaherty, now the Director for the Henri and Belinda Termeer Center For Targeted Therapies, described the role the center would play, both clinically and in the research setting.

We were then treated to a tour of the center, which is located on the 7th floor of the Yawkey building. I had expected just an expanded laboratory, but it is an entire unit dedicated to phase I clinical trials, with sparkling new private rooms boasting windows to the outside world.

The evening concluded with a moving testimonial from John Murphy, an early participant in a trial for patients with melanoma. And of course a few words from Henri Termeer ( the former president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Genzyme Corporation), who along with his wife Belinda, are the generous donors who made the center a reality.

My feelings that evening could be summed up in three words: awe (of the company I was momentarily keeping), gratitude and hope. Those of us with cancer are supported by an entire army of truly brilliant, incredibly dedicated and endlessly resourceful individuals who are simply not going to back down. Cancer, you are in for a hell of a fight.