MD Anderson celebrates 70th anniversary

May 4, 2011 4:53:44 PM PDT
MD Anderson Cancer Center has been making breakthroughs since it was built in 1941. This year it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been treated there, and more around the world have benefitted from research done here.

They've used everything to kill cancer -- from mustard gas, the horrific weapon of World War I, to poison like arsenic, a favorite of mystery writers.

MD Anderson Cancer Center is the place where mammography was invented. But now it has the worlds' most advanced operating room, where surgeons work in blue light using GPS-like technology and an MRI to guide them as they search for brain cancer.

"We know exactly where we are; we know exactly how much tumor we're removing; we know exactly how much we have left," MD Anderson Neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Weinberg said.

Much has changed during the 70 years that people came to MD Anderson looking for hope, the survival rate for one.

"If you were diagnosed with leukemia, when I was born you had a less than 10 per cent chance of being cured and now you have an over 80-percent chance of being cured and about a quarter of them have a 95-percent chance of being cured. That's the difference between night and day," said Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Patrick Zweidler-McKay.

Four-year-old James was only 13 months old when his mother Joy Ryan was told he had leukemia.

"I know we're in the best hands we could possibly be in for his life and that was reassuring to us in a very dark time," Ryan said.

Three years later, James is cancer-free and just comes in for checkups. Now 30,000 new patients come here each year, hoping for a success story like James.

"There's hope. Here you are in a hospital with cancer patients, you'd think it'd be a gloomy place, it's not; it's a place of hope," MD Anderson President John Mendelsohn President said.

Houston's place of hope has tripled in size, quadrupled its research budget, and is known as the best cancer hospital in the world. But that's not what little James cares about.

He cares about tae kwon do, and that's how it should be for a 4 year old -- and especially one whose survived cancer.

On Thursday night, some 2000 people will celebrate MD Anderson's 70 years of work at Minute Maid Park. Their goal is to raise $5 million for cancer research.


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