As a cancer doctor, it upsets me that so many of my friends and patients have lost their lives to cancer. Too many Kansans and their families have been and will be devastated by the impact of this disease.
I returned to Kansas because I wanted to make a difference in my home state. I take cancer very seriously, and I can assure you that I take the University of Kansas' effort to obtain National Cancer Institute designation for our cancer center very seriously. Unfortunately, the Lawrence Journal-World in recent editorials has chosen to politicize our efforts in unfortunate and counterproductive ways. I am writing to set the record straight.
I helped the Vanderbilt-Ingram Comprehensive Cancer Center obtain National Cancer Institute designation. As director of the KU Cancer Center, I have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to earn that designation. I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to bring world-class cancer care to our nation's heartland.
We have to remember that cancer doesn't impact just Democrats or Republicans, residents of the Show-Me State or the Sunflower State, rich or poor. Cancer doesn't see those distinctions - and for those of us fighting cancer, we shouldn't see those distinctions either. When collaborations and partnerships can advance the cause of fighting cancer, we should pursue those relationships with zeal.
The quest for National Cancer Institute designation is important because it will give patients in our region access to leading-edge treatments and cures, and researchers valuable support for their efforts to discover new treatments and cures. The National Cancer Institute provides this designation only when it is assured that the center seeking the designation has demonstrated a commitment to collaborate with others - to marshal resources and opportunities to obtain results in the fight against cancer.
My experience and expertise tell me that we are much more likely to be successful in obtaining this prestigious designation if we can demonstrate a strong network of partners and allies through broader hospital affiliations and collaborations that are not hindered by the politics of a state line. This is one of the reasons we are building the Midwest Cancer Alliance (a network of the great oncologists, hospitals and health care providers throughout our region) as one of the important elements of our cancer center's design. We will be more successful in reaching our goal and serving patients if we work with others rather than simply choose to go it alone.
Never before has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients in Lawrence and throughout our region ever been greater. KU has established as its top priority the creation of a world-class cancer center. We are making great progress toward that goal. Those who believe we can achieve that goal without breaking barriers, without creating new partnerships, without reaching out to those who share our interests, without doing everything possible to help patients in need are short-sighted and ill-advised.