The Hero Behind Dr. Larry Einhorn

Kathy D. Miller, MD


March 17, 2014

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Hi. I am Dr. Kathy Miller from Indiana University in Indianapolis, and I am back with another of our Medscape Oncology video blogs. I have been away from the blog for several months while my colleagues and I at Indiana University prepared for the National Cancer Institute review of the work we do here at the Cancer Center. It is an event that happens about every 5 years. It takes a lot of preparation and is a great chance for us to think about where we have been, what we are doing, and where we ought to be headed.

We were joined at that day-long review by one of the true heroes in oncology research. Coming from Indiana University, where there has been such a big focus on testis cancer over the years, you might think the hero I am talking about is Dr. Larry Einhorn. Indeed, Larry joined us for that day, and he remains an active and vibrant researcher. But the real hero in my mind was seated farther back in the room. The real hero is a gentleman named John Cleland. I share his name and his story with his permission.

More than 30 years ago, John was a college student when he was diagnosed with testis cancer. He had received the standard treatment of the day, was in remission for a fairly short time, and when his cancer progressed, it was suggested that other treatments would surely be ineffective and he would likely die from his disease within the next year.

The Rest Is History

At that point, John found Dr. Einhorn here at IU, and John became the first patient who enrolled in the first cisplatin-based testis cancer trial.[1] He heard Dr. Einhorn clearly say, "This is a clinical trial. This is investigational. We do not know if this will be helpful. In fact, we have not tried this before. You would be the first." John looked Dr. Einhorn squarely in the eye and said, "What have I got to lose? If it does not help me, it may help someone else. Let's do it."

They did it, and as they say, the rest is history. John led the way for thousands of men who were cured of testis cancer, based on the regimen he had the courage to try for the first time.[2]

There are other heroes like John among us. As you look around your clinics, take a good look at those patients who enroll in the clinical trials that you join as investigators, and the patients who have benefited from those heroes. Give them a special thank you, a special high-five. Tell them about John and ask them to tell their friends and neighbors about the power of clinical trials. That is a very powerful message that we have not been so successful at sharing, and that is the message that this hero among us brings.

I will be back again with another message soon.


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