By Jim Donovan
It’s not easy to talk about losing a friend to cancer. Several years ago, my good friend from college died of prostate cancer. I never imagined that years later, I would be touched by cancer again. This time, even closer to home.
In 2013, my brother John, a successful entrepreneur, was diagnosed with adrenal cancer. John had always been the picture of perfect health. He ran his own fitness club, ate healthy food and exercised religiously, but his rare form of cancer was aggressive. After a courageous battle with the disease he passed away at the age of 43, leaving behind his wife and two children. Losing him was unimaginable.
Through the years, I have learned that the “unimaginable” loss we felt is something that millions of families in the U.S. and around the world also experience. According to the American Cancer Society, 8 million people worldwide die of cancer each year and the number of new cancer cases is rising.
I also know, there are tens of millions of cancer survivors. It’s one of the reasons I am hopeful. Just consider Ebony Glass, who shared her story at the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance Foundation. Her two young sons were both diagnosed with different cancers and received different treatments. Both of her sons were cared for at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, designed for the comfort and convenience of pediatric cancer patients and their families. Ebony’s sons are now in remission. Her story and the stories of so many other cancer patients are inspiring.
I am inspired every day by the families who face a new cancer diagnosis. Yes, it is hard to talk about losing a loved-one to cancer. But every day we celebrate the families who are now cancer-free. Thanks to Dana-Farber, there is real hope.
When my friend, and then my brother died, I felt helpless. I wanted to do something. I wanted to fight back. In part, it’s the reason I joined the Board of Trustees at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It’s why I started a fund for Prostate Cancer Research at Dana-Farber.
Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to help, but anyone can be part of this effort. Anyone can volunteer their time and energy to support cancer research.
Jim Donovan is Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.