Dr. Morris Groves, Texas Oncology Austin Brain Tumor Center, event morning speech at the 4th annual Head for the Cure 5K – Central Texas:
Good morning! Thank you for being here.
Our patients and their families are our heroes; they unwaveringly face serious problems with dignity and true bravery. They get out of bed every day knowing what a serious challenge they face. And like many of history’s greatest heroes, our patients are often pioneers and trailblazers; venturing where no one else has ever gone-testing new ideas. Thank you-it means a great deal to us all. We feel honored to work to help you overcome these challenging diseases.
But there are also heroes behind the scenes. To name just a few: the MRI technicians, appointment schedulers, insurance persons, programmers, infusion specialists, race organizers, medical technologists, phlebotomists, medical assistants, EMTs, nurses, PAs, and countless others. Thank you all.
Also, there are literally thousands of laboratory researchers, world-wide, toiling in anonymity trying to understand and fix the problem. For hard problems-for complex diseases like brain tumors, it is a near certainty that new breakthroughs, and new cures, will, in the long run, reach us through the intelligence, creativity, hard work, and dedication of individuals whom we will never hear or know of, or meet. We thank these quiet unsung heroes.
People’s history of problem solving goes back a long way. Think of some of the problems our antecedents solved over many thousands of years. For example: how to not freeze or starve, how to stay dry, how to hide from predators and eliminate smallpox; how to develop rules of a civil society where we can live safely and productively; how to create an economic and political system that allows for the creation of enough wealth so that we have enough time to figure out how fix more problems, like brain tumors.
Through this step-wise, creative, problem-solving, explanatory process, today we don’t have to spend most of our effort hunting for food; now we can spend time designing experiments to cure cancer.
So, “Problems are inevitable. But, all problems are soluble.” I am quoting David Deutsch, a theoretical physicist and one of my favorite authors, and someone who thinks about complex problems and their solutions. And David is right.
If a particular problem’s solution does not violate the laws of physics it is soluble. And some good news everybody: we are made of physical stuff, and that physical stuff must follow the laws of physics. To be sure, we are complex entities, but, we are also finite and obey the laws of physics. Thus, all our problems, including brain tumors, are soluble.
It is not a matter of if, but really a matter of WHEN we will solve this particular problem.
WE NEED SPEED:
Currently in the US, only about 5% of cancer patients participate in experimental clinical trials. And thanks to all of you who have, and are, participating. Your contribution is incredibly important! But that is not NEARLY enough-we must have as many people involved as possible.
Consider this: If we had 50% instead of 5% of patients participating in experimental treatments we would move 10 X as fast, possibly faster! Think about it. In 10 years we would experience 100 years of progress, probably more. And for the problems we face, speed is our ally.
So, please call all your family & friends; put it on your website or facebook page, or tweet it, and do that again and again. Tell everyone to get to a center that offers new experimental treatments and get on one! Tell them to go online to find a new option.
Get a second opinion for the problem. Seek out new and better options.
We are learning how to precisely target brain tumors’ biology and how to harness your immune system to help you fight the tumor. An incredible array of exciting experimental studies are available right now, many of these use your immune system to fight the tumor.
Many patients are participating but we need more so we can move faster – so seek out these options, and make others aware. Because of recent scientific advances, I have never been more excited or optimistic for our brain tumor patients than I am today.
Thank you, all, for being here and for supporting HFTC and the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative (BTTC); thank you to Head for the Cure Foundation and BTTC for supporting the infrastructure that will ultimately cure brain tumors.
Have a great day everybody!