Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Big Business of Cancer

This is what I call a sexy Tuesday night with my handsome husband...a brain tumor lecture. I mean, really, what's sexier than our brains?! University of Washington, Seattle Children's, and Fred Hutchinson (because they are 3 of 5 Seattle hospitals that are all owned by the same conglomerate - please cement that one into your memory banks) pulled a team of doctors and researchers, primarily for the brain, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering to create a new brain cancer center, here in Seattle, named, The Alvord Brain Tumor Center. The goal is to create the best cancer center west of MD Anderson. 

It was an interesting presentation. I look forward to considering them for my brain care sometime in the next decade or half. Just sayin'.

The Alvord center will be an interesting institution to watch. From what I listened to this evening, I'm trepidacious, and curious. It could be exciting, but during the Q&A portion of the evening not much was answered. The main point driven home was the need for funding/donations. Want, want, want. Why is it that the cancer takes, and many doctors take, and then, after that, they still want more. I'm all for spending, but be smart. And, without clear plans for the future, no step-by-step goals showing how things are going to happen, ideas can turn into expensive pipe-dreams, worse yet, they can become poorly executed, misleading, tools/practices/instutions. I mean, seriously, the head guy Dr Eric Holland has no game-plan to implement his tumor database, he's just dangling it out there. We can all dangle things and ask for money, but it's important to have all the facts. The doctor was incredibly rude when he was asked for a timeline or plan. It was awkward. The super nice guy asking for money was, oddly, a jerk when it came to accountability. Anyway, I won't go into it all right here. Still a great night. Still something to watch.


  1. Well said, very poignant and important information to share. Thank you.
    I especially focused on "...without clear plans for the future, no step-by-step goals showing how things are going to happen, ideas can turn into expensive pipe-dreams, worse yet, they can become poorly executed, misleading, tools/practices/instutions."

  2. you would wish all these cancer research or even cancer charities, were done or run by cancer patients themselves or on behalf of love ones who have cancer, that they can hardly wait to be made redundant or fired when their 'job', ‘company’ or ‘industry’ becomes obsolete...

  3. How can you be accountable and have a clear cut plan for something you do not know the answer to? "a nice guy when it comes to fundraising, but a jerk when it comes to accountability" definitely is not an accurate description of Eric Holland. He was probably baffled that somebody thought there is a step by step clear cut plan for curing glioblastoma, Brain cancer is not a simple disease. It is multifaceted and very complex. A research database is a very useful tool to discover new treatments.
    Dr. Holland is a good doctor, surgeon, teacher, researcher,and person. I'm sorry, but I simply disagree with your first impression of him.
    I hope you are never in need his services, but this man is capable of making progress in Seattle. Money Money Money, Want Want Want. This man probably doesn't even need to go to work with the amount of success he has had as a brain surgeon. Yet he is moving to Seattle just to try and improve things from his perspective at other big cancer research centers (Sloan and MDA) which run on lots and lots of money whidh he is trying to raise. He did 6 out of 6 of my last brain surgeries and I like to think I am a productive person.

    John Gallagher DVM

    1. First, I am very sorry that I offended you. Second, Dr Holland is an amazing surgeon, and he clearly has a genius mind. I went to a lecture last night that did not impress me. It was vague, and not all of the questions were answered. In fact, Dr Holland was exceedingly rude to the founder of The Chris Elliott fund. It was awkward, and uncomfortable for everyone in the room. I hope that if I ever DO need his services, he wouldn't go as low as deny someone his talents just because we don't agree, or because I'm wasn't impressed with his lecture. People weren't asking for a step-by-step plan to cure brain cancer, they were asking who would have access or control of the database, how they would coordinate with other facilities, and things of that nature that would typically be in a business model. These are things that I would want to know before I was to give money (not that I have any extra to give). Because I adore my neurosurgeon, I understand how protective you are of Dr Holland. I'm very sorry that I upset you with my first impression, I truly do want to see only success from Dr Holland, and the Alvord Brain Tumor Center.

    2. Also, I appreciate your comment and history with Dr Holland. Firsthand patient accounts always hold a heavy weight in my mind and help me form my opinions, so thank you. Your words will not be forgotten.

  4. No problem Jess, I wasn't there and I didn't see what went on. Just wanted to give another perspective on him. Bright people don't always have good social skills, but Dr. Holland is unequivocally a dedicated and experienced surgeon, he is not at all driven by money, I'm amazed he still works as hard as he does, if he didn't like helping people, he could just do plastic surgery, brain surgery on cancer patients has to be the most frustrating field in the world. You get to know patients, they are obviously good people, and you try to fix them and oftentimes they die. That said, as a melanoma patient my survival odds were less than that of a glioblastoma patient (although in reality, nobody is a statistic). That is why I follow your blog, I enjoy seeing somebody enjoy life as it comes, and do everything they can to help themselves survive. I check your posts as soon as they are in my inbox. I hope someday you are posting on somebody else's blog who is still going through treatment, because they came off with a bad impression on the person who did your brain surgery 10 years ago. God Bless and keep living life to the fullest.

    One tidbit of info though, I noticed you rely on much of what radiologists say and can read into things to the point that they can drive you crazy. The point I am making here is that radiologists just see what is on a computer screen. Surgeons see what is actually going on and then they have to confirm it via a pathologist. Don't drive yourself crazy about what a radiologist says, the other good bit of advice I got when I was going through treatment was not to get euphoric over a little bit of good news and then feel like you got the wind knocked out of you over a little piece of bad news.
    The last 2 surgeries I've had were diagnosed by the radiologist (and Dr. Holland for that matter) as tumor recurrence. It was the pathologist who revealed it was just radiation necrosis, I have not had an active tumor since 2008(or my last surgery where tumor was diagnosed via pathology). Oh well, keep plugging along, you obviously have the same approach I did, hit Hermie with everything, and keep living a normal life.
    God Bless
    p.s. no need to apologize, this is your blog, I kind of felt guilty for that post.
    I just like to help give people hope. I once wrote Dr. Holland that I can never pay him back, I can only pay things forward.


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