Nashville doctor keynote speaker at Survivor dinner
by Hawkins Teague
May 07, 2008 | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Speaking at the annual Relay for Life cancer survivors’ dinner, Dr. Mace Rothenberg said that when he first started treating cancer, what was known about the disease and what was known about how to treat it were practically a world apart.

“Over the last decade, those two worlds have come together,” the physician from Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center said at Monday night’s event.

Rothenberg treated the late Gene Wright after he was diagnosed five years ago. Relay co-chair Dannye Wagner said that Rothenberg was selected by the American Cancer Society for their 2008 Lane W. Adams Quality of Life Award for his work on clinical trial designs. Wright’s son, Mike Wright, nominated Rothenberg for the award and introduced the speaker at Monday’s event.

Wright said that his parents were on vacation in Destin, Fla. in 2003 when his father started showing the first signs of cancer. He was diagnosed at Vanderbilt and was told he was in the fourth stage of terminal cancer. When Gene asked how long he had left, the doctor told him that it was impossible to say for sure. He could have a year, maybe more or maybe less.

Gene chose Phase One clinical trial treatment, and this was how he and Rothenberg met, Wright said. He said Rothenberg formed a bond with the family and that even though Rothenberg professed to care about all his patients the same amount, he said that the nature of the relationships depended on a variety of factors, like how outgoing the patient is. Wright said that Rothenberg was a blessing throughout the ordeal as he juggled different experimental medications and told Gene about all the possible benefits, as well as the possible risks.

“He guided him with a gentle hand,” Wright said. “And through his treatment, he allowed Dad to see many more sunrises and sunsets and see his grandsons plays in tournaments.”

Wright said that Rothenberg was invited to Gene’s funeral, but that he said he couldn’t come because he had an appointment with another patient. Yet when it came time for the visitation, Rothenberg stood in line for two hours until he got to the front to give his condolences to the family.

Read a full report on the American Cancer Society's annual Survivors' Dinner in this week's Cadiz Record.
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