The following are excerpts from remarks given at the April 3 Mildred Mindell Cancer Foundation fundrasing event by Dr. Barry Meisenberg, Deputy Director of Clinical Affairs at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center and head of the division of Hematology/Oncology
I want to say a word about the Mindell Foundation, our hosts for tonight's event. First, let me say that I am proud to be honored in this way. There have been many outstanding Baltimore-area physicians honored by the Mindell Foundation and I am proud to be amongst them.
If I do the math correctly, 48 years of annual events takes us back to 1957. Let’s put that in perspective. 1957 was before there was an organized cancer center within the University of Maryland Hospital or School of Medicine. That was before there was a National Cancer Institute, that was before oncology was even a recognized specialty of medicine, that was before there was more than a handful of useful agents for treatment, before there was a biologic understanding of cancer processes. Before all of that, there was this foundation, seeing a need and filling a void. Thank you so much.
I would like, at this point, to introduce the men and women of the Blood and Marrow Transplant team who are here tonight and ask them to stand at their tables.
I want to say a few words about these individuals -- the nurses, the therapists, the pharmacists, and the other physicians who take care of the patient.
I have already mentioned that the patients who come for this therapy are often quite ill and destined to become more ill as they undergo the procedures involved in a stem cell transplant. Even before they come to us, their lives have been disrupted and strained by medical appointments, by insurance bureaucracies, by fear, and even by the concern that their hopes for cure are unreasonable. Their organs have been battered by weeks of previous chemotherapy and they often come to us weakened and vulnerable.
What kind of person would step forward to care for these patients, to apply balm to their strained, hurt bodies and strained minds? What kind of person would willingly take on the sickest patients in the hospital and throw their energies into helping? What kind of person commits to demonstrating to that hurt patient that they are willing to dedicate themselves totally to easing their suffering? What kind of person would do all this?
I’ll answer my own question. People who are unafraid. People who believe that an individual’s life is worth saving no matter how difficult. People whose compassion leads them to ease the suffering of even those whose lives cannot be saved. What kind of people would eagerly serve as a second (or in some cases first) family to patients whose outlook may be bleak? What kind of person would do all this? The people now standing in front of you.
And now would like to introduce my fellow honorees, men whom I am proud to call my colleagues.
These two have come from very different places to get to this podium tonight. Aaron Rapoport grew up here in Baltimore, Ashraf Badros grew up in Cairo, Egypt. Both went to the finest universities and medical schools in their countries and both entered the field of oncology, heeding a call to treat the sickest of patients.
They share other characteristics which directed them to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center from among all the cancer centers in the world in which they could work:
Besides a national reputation, each has developed a local reputation. How is a local reputation different than a national reputation? Well actually,it is better. A local reputation means that when a friend of an employee, or a family member of another doctor, takes ill with a dreaded disease and they are asked for the name of the best person to handle that problem, the answer that comes off their lips is often Aaron Rapoport or Ashraf Badros.
It is the highest honor that one can receive from a colleague.