Ruesch Center Hosts First Annual Patient and Caregiver Symposium

November 23, 2010

From left to right:  Susie Park, RN, MSN, Allen P. Chudzinski MD, Anatoly Dritschilo, MD and John Marshall, MD
From left to right: Susie Park, RN, MSN, Allen P. Chudzinski MD, Anatoly Dritschilo, MD and John Marshall, MD

On Saturday, November 6, 2010 the Otto J. Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers hosted its first annual Ruesch Patient and Caregiver Community Outreach Symposium at Georgetown University’s Rafik B. Hariri Building. Patients, their families, survivors and advocates joined together for the half-day event featuring educational lectures on GI cancer research, nutrition and wellness by Georgetown University Hospital and Georgetown Lombardi physicians and specialists. The symposium also featured three disease-specific breakout sessions on colorectal cancer, liver cancer and pancreatic cancer geared to foster direct interaction among attendees, physicians and nurse navigators.

Led by John L. Marshall, MD, the Ruesch Center was established in September 2009 through a gift from Jeannette W. Ruesch, whose husband Otto died of pancreatic cancer in 2004 after being treated at Lombardi by Marshall. It was founded on a three-part mission of research aimed at a cure, patient-centered care and advocacy. Marshall, who is chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology for Georgetown University Hospital and associate director for clinical research at Georgetown Lombardi, planned the symposium to bring together scientists, advocates, care providers and industry professionals. According to Marshall, GI cancers remain among the most fatal of cancers and advances in treatment have lagged well behind other disease priorities because of a smaller pool of research funding and fewer survivors to carry the torch of advocacy.

Marshall’s vision of personalized care was published in an opinion essay titled “Fighting a Smarter War on Cancer” in The Washington Post on November 29, 2009. In this piece, Marshall describes the importance of personalized medicine and expanded cancer research funding. Through this essay, this ongoing symposia series and other continued advocacy efforts, the Ruesch Center seeks to raise awareness of the challenges and barriers to finding cures for all cancers, especially those of the GI tract.

Podcasts from the Ruesch Patient and Community Symposium are available on the Ruesch Center website.

Author: Nkem T. Wellington