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It's About Discovering for Dr. Preston and Joy Steen

Fewer side-effects … better quality of life … longer lives … more cures.

In his 22 years at Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center, medical oncologist Dr. Preston Steen has seen big changes in cancer care. Many can be traced to clinical trials available through the National Cancer Institute’s Community Clinical Oncology Program. Thanks to CCOP, patients in our region have access to today's promising new therapies before they become tomorrow's standard treatments.

“If you have cancer, you want the best possible care,” says Dr. Steen, CCOP principal investigator since 2003. “Often that means participation in a clinical trial.”

But in recent years government funding for CCOP has declined, putting more pressure on philanthropy to cover the high costs associated with clinical research. The widening gap prompted Dr. Steen and his wife, Joy, to give a major gift to the cancer research endowment.

“The game-changing clinical trials tend to come through the CCOP," he says. “This cooperative group process is the most trusted and least biased.”

Another motivator for giving? The bold initiatives undertaken and achieved by the Cancer Center in recent years. These include Sanford’s Palliative Care Unit, the “embrace” cancer survivorship program and a comprehensive breast cancer program praised by the American College of Surgeons.

“This is a place of vision, high standards and cutting-edge treatments,” says Dr. Steen. “But there’s still the Upper Midwestern feeling of ‘we take care of each other,’ ‘we appreciate each other.’ Money can’t buy that.”

Dr. Steen expects the next decades will bring a monumental shift in new, targeted therapies to treat cancer. Like all advances, they’ll follow a path that starts in a lab and gradually reaches the stage of clinical trials open to patients. With continued funding, those clinical trials will be available in our region ... bringing victories close to home.

Click here to make a gift.

Posted Date: June 2012