Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Patient and donor stories

At VCU Massey Cancer Center, we know cancer is personal. When you or someone you love has cancer, it’s an interruption of life that goes far beyond the physical. Cancer research is personal, too. There’s a reason our scientists and physicians dedicate lifetimes of work to the quest of understanding what causes cancer and how it can be eradicated. That reason is because with every discovery, every breakthrough, every step toward a cure, lives are affected in very personal ways.

If you’ve ever wondered how science is put to work saving lives, we invite you to read some remarkable examples of lives that have been extended, saved and improved as the result of cancer research.

William Weber

When William Weber started experiencing painful complications from his colon cancer treatment in April 2010, he and his wife Gwen became focused on finding relief and a higher quality of life. 

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Margie Brauer

“There is nothing like watching your child fight cancer to make you appreciate the value of cancer research." Margie became intimately familiar with the impact of cancer when their daughter was treated at VCU for a neuroblastoma. Twenty years later, Margie was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

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Ida McCutchen

‌In March 2008, 69-year old Ida McCutchen was diagnosed with stage III lung cancer. Her daughters Robinette and Tracey and her granddaughter Chalisa knew that, while their strong family was prepared to do whatever it took to battle Ida’s disease, their best weapon was expert cancer care. 

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Terrell Harrigan

‌“When I learned I had [breast] cancer, I knew I couldn’t let it control my life. I had cancer, but cancer didn’t have me. I had to find answers and understand my options."

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Rebecca Spivey

Several months and numerous exams, X-rays and CT scans later, Rebecca was referred to an orthopaedic oncologist at VCU Massey Cancer Center who quickly diagnosed her with radiation-induced osteosarcoma – a tumor in her bone that had likely developed as a long-term effect of the high dose of radiation she received as a child.

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Ray Slabaugh

When Ray Slabaugh was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma in 2009, he and his wife were prepared to go anywhere to get the best possible treatment for Slabaugh’s rare form of aggressive non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma.

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Junius Hayes

Following a regular screening, Hayes learned that he had early stage prostate cancer. He was presented with the opportunity to participate in a new clinical trial that utilizes a biodegradable balloon inserted next to the prostate that, when inflated, allows for more targeted radiation to the prostate and less damage to the surrounding areas.

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George Emerson

Diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the throat in December 2005, Emerson elected to be treated at Massey after extensively researching his options, including traveling to other top cancer centers and talking with numerous doctors.  The more he learned about the challenging nature of his treatment, the more he realized the value of having Massey in his backyard. 

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Reed Whitener

Patients coping with cancer.

Reed considered himself a typical 50-year old family man a husband, father of three teenagers and busy salesman when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare form cancer that attacks blood and bone, in September 2007. 

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Diane Harris Wright

Dianne Harris Wright’s experience at VCU Massey Cancer Center has been personal from the start, eight years ago. After receiving her diagnosis of Stage 3 ovarian cancer from her doctor in the community on the Friday of a holiday weekend, she and her husband, Ken, sprung into action making phone calls to anyone and everyone they know who could help answer their questions. 

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