Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A World of Limitless Possibilities

Last night, the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center hosted "Progress & Promise," its annual address to the community. This is a chance for the general public to hear about the advancements made at the Cancer Center during the past year, as well as future plans for 2012 and beyond.

This year's program highlighted two important aspects of the Cancer Center. The first being that 2011 marked the center's 40th anniversary. While the seeds of UAB's cancer program were first planted in 1968 with the death of Governor Lurleen B. Wallace from cancer, the Cancer Center really took shape in 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer by signing the National Cancer Act. This piece of legislation established "comprehensive" cancer centers that would be at the forefront of cancer research, treatment and education. UAB was designated one of the first of these centers, and it has maintained that prestigious status ever since.

The second aspect last night's program focused on was our SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant in pancreatic cancer. SPORE grants are highly competitive and prestigious grants from the National Cancer Institute that are designed to move research discoveries quickly and efficiently from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside. The Cancer Center holds one of only three pancreatic cancer SPOREs in the country, which illustrates our status as a national leader in the research and treatment of this particularly devastating type of cancer.

Denny & Jan LaVercombe
Last night's highlight was delivered by pancreatic cancer survivor Denny LaVercombe and his wife Jan. Denny was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2005 and was originally given six months to live. He came to the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for a second opinion, and thanks to the treatment he has received here, he's been able to live and enjoy his life for another six years. Considering that the overall five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than 5 percent, Denny is a walking miracle and a perfect example of what the Cancer Center is all about.

And what is the Cancer Center all about? We are about providing hope - to our patients, to families, to friends and other loved ones, and to anyone who has been touched by cancer. As Jan LaVercombe said to last night's audience, through hope and all of us pulling together, we can create a world of limitless possibilities. I think that says it perfectly.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

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