Archive for December, 2018


Dec 17 2018

Magical Peanuts

by at 9:44 am

We are definitely knee deep in the holiday season. Hanukah is over. Christmas and New Years Eve are on the way. We had our Cancer Center party last Monday night, and our little office party on Thursday. We have sent out and received gifts. The pace of business has begun to slow down just a bit. It truly is a time to show gratitude to our friends and loved ones.

However, I see analogies between cancer and the little things in life seemingly everywhere. Consider the humble styrofoam packing peanut. You know, those little white things that appear, like evil little Minions, in every package that we receive during the holidays to protect everything from champagne flutes to fruitcake.

So, we received a lovely gift from a friend in a fairly large box crammed with styrofoam peanuts. The box needed to be broken down for disposal, meaning that we had to remove peanuts that were plentiful enough to fill a small bathtub. Harriet and I decided to pour the little critters into a large trash bag. The peanuts had other ideas. With every pour the pieces, emboldened by the magic of static electricity, flew about, and attached themselves, seemingly at random, to any stationary or moving object.

Harriet, whose kindness and patience is infinite, gently informed me that I could address this by wetting the kernels. But no, I was not going to resort to chemotherapy. I was determined to use a surgical approach.

The peanuts won.

Every attempt to empty them into the bag was frustrated, and every time I moved, I found little morsels attached to some part of my hands or clothing. They were the cargo and I was the carrier as they spread (metastasized) down the stairs to our trash room. And little specks seemed to be everywhere, no matter how hard I tried to pluck them away. Fortunately, unlike cancer they do not autonomously proliferate, though it sure seemed like that to me.

May this be the worst loss I experience for many years.

This will be my last blog for 2018, so please accept my warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The best is yet to come!

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Dec 10 2018

Welcome Back, Winter

by at 10:34 am

Well, it seems as if Winter is slowly tightening its vise around our region. We finished our celebration of Chanukah on Sunday night, punctuated by the background TV broadcasts showing the sequential death blows to the seasons of the Eagles (who fought valiantly) and Washington (which did not). However, any year that includes the celebration of a Super Bowl victory is a good one in my book.

As we continue our December journey towards Christmas and New Years Day, the trip will be eased by the knowledge that our CCSG has been recommended for four years of support with maintenance of our Comprehensive Status and approval of our Consortium with John Theurer Cancer Center. We have much to be grateful for, but a lot of work to do so we can demonstrate upward trajectories in our NCI funding, clinical trial accruals and further integration and success of our Consortium. Already, I am sketching out the best ways we can respond to the Summary Statement by modifying our Strategic Plan, and the next few months will be very busy as well set our plans into motion. This is no time for resting!

I hope to see you at our annual Holiday Party on Tuesday at the Leavey Center.

Have a great week.

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Dec 03 2018

Return of the Daily Grind

by at 10:58 am

Greetings on a quiet Sunday evening, the first night of Chanukah. Our kids are coming over to light the candles (and for presents to be distributed). We are grateful this year that Harriet underwent successful and ultimately uneventful back surgery last week. She is recovering well, but we are not getting out very much yet. Our friends and family have been very helpful, though Harriet can do anything that does not involve bending, lifting or twisting.

I was out of the office at the end of last week, and will ease back into my work routine over the next few days. I am in the midst of writing my R01 renewal and have at least two additional grants to write over the next few months. I am particularly keen to return to building a pancreatic cancer SPORE or related multi-PI effort. We have a lot of expertise in this area, and I look forward to the challenge!

The coming week’s work will be interrupted by jury duty on Tuesday. Otherwise I look forward to getting back into the daily grind! And with any luck, we’ll get our CCSG summary some time in the next few days too.

Have a great week.

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