Posted by: getthenac | August 4, 2010

Vanderbilt Takes Cancer Personally. True Dat.

From Cynthia Floyd Manley, VICC Associate Director for Communications

Vanderbilt takes cancer personally.

That’s what the dominant Page One headline in today’s Tennessean says. It’s a play on words because the story is about Vanderbilt’s newly announced Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative. (You can read more in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s News Center).

But it’s also true in its most literal sense. The nurse who takes calls about this new initiative in the morning and then goes to her own chemotherapy appointment in the afternoon takes it personally. The physician-scientist who can share with his lung cancer patients his own experience with lymphoma takes it personally. The breast cancer survivor whose good friend is now in treatment and who read about this initiative on VICC’s Facebook page this morning takes it personally. The 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women among us who will face a cancer diagnosis, well, they have or will take it very personally.

As someone who has been an observer of cancer science for more than 15 years, I can tell you that no one takes this disease more personally than the investigators at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

For months, Dr. William Pao, who directs the initiative, and his colleagues have focused on every detail, making sure the science was exactly right and the process of delivering on the promise of this discovery could go as smoothly as possible. Much time and energy has been spent in getting the announcement just right and making sure folks who might get questions from patients and families know what this means (and importantly what it doesn’t mean).

Whatever you take away from the coverage of this announcement, please know this. It’s a big deal, one in which everyone at Vanderbilt can and should take pride. No, we didn’t cure cancer this week. But we did demonstrate a leadership role in what many predict will be a sea change in how we diagnose and treat our patients, not only with cancer but with myriad other diseases as well.

So feel free to take it personally. I know I do.


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