Monthly Archives: September 2013

A little inspiration

Life can be greatly enriched by a little inspiration from unexpected sources.   I had such an experience a few days ago.

If you follow my blog, you know that last week I traveled to Washington for the release of the 2013 cancer research progress report from the American Association for Cancer Research.   The visit consisted of a busy two days discussing the importance of federal funding to advance cancer research.  Events included committee meetings, a press conference, a reception, a dinner, a meeting to organize our advocacy efforts, and visits to congressional offices.   Participants in the effort included not only researchers and physicians but also patient advocates.

One of the advocates was 8-year-old Maddie, who has been dealing with leukemia for more than half of her life. It is hard to think about what this little girl has been through – months of intensive chemotherapy with multiple complications, relapse of the leukemia, bone marrow transplantation with multiple complications, relapse again.  Her parents then sought out a highly experimental immunotherapy because there were no other options.  That experimental therapy was successful and Maddie is back to being an active 8-year-old – one without any evidence of leukemia (her story can be found as part of the cancer research progress report at

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Cancer Progress Report

I have been fortunate over the past few months to be a member of the committee that developed the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Progress Report 2013 – a report that was made public today (  This report outlines significant progress over the past year, while acknowledging that there is much work yet to be done.  It includes sections on “What is Cancer?” “Prevention and Detection,” “Making Research Count for Patients,” “On the Horizon” and “What isRequired for Continued Progress Against Cancer?”

Iowa can be proud that researchers at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center are making major contributions to many of the advances outlined in the AACR report. Continue reading

Depends on where one sits

In the classic Japanese film “Rashomon,” various characters tell very different stories based on their observations of the same incident.  The term “Rashomon Effect” is now used to refer to contradictory interpretations of the same events by different persons.  After watching this movie, I realized one person can experience an internal “Rashomon Effect” and have very different interpretations of events depending on the perspective from where they sit.  I have experienced this myself in my various roles.

As an administrator, I think a lot about accountability.  I know that there is great value in   being held accountable by others.  This applies to me and to those who work with me in the Cancer Center. I also know that administrative systems designed to assure accountability sometimes rely on imperfect or rigid measures of success that can get in the way of being responsive to necessary change.  In those cases, being held accountable can feel like oppressive micromanagement.  So … “accountability”  from one point of view can look like  “oppressive micromanagement”  from another – it depends on where  one sits. Continue reading