A little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Druker, the man who developed the lifesaving chemotherapy drug, Gleevec, and the man whom I owe my life to. The development of Gleevec is said to be one of the largest medical breakthroughs of ALL TIME, not to mention has prolonged lives like mine far beyond our wildest expecations. Needless to say, I was absolutely humbled to meet him, but I was even more amazed to witness his humble, grateful demeanor and to realize that his entire life’s work has been fueled by passion. Oh, and by the way, he grew up in Minnesota (#SKOL!).
Early in his work, Dr. Druker lost the majority of his patients to CML within just a couple of years, because there were so few treatment options. He wrote a letter to each of their families offering his condolences and promised that he was going to work to do something about this awful disease. “We have to do better”, he wrote to them. Fueled by passion, Dr. Druker went to work in the lab, and, despite encountering numerous road blocks and setbacks, after three years his tireless work and dedication paid off He did exactly what he set out to do: He developed a treatment for CML that decreases and controls cancer cells and gives patients like me a chance to live. But not live just any life, but a FULL and MEANINGFUL one.
Since developing Gleevec, Dr. Druker hasn’t had to write any more letters. Without him and his dedication, my life expectancy would have been 3-5 years, but instead, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my dreams, live my passions, and make countless memories with family and friends while living with cancer for over eleven years.
Dr. Druker defines the word “hero”. Not only is he brave, selfless, and tireless in his efforts, but he doesn’t need recognition to keep battling. He doesn’t score touchdowns, win Olympic medals or Grammys - though he deserves recognition as much or more than anyone I can think of. His reward comes in the form of life. We need more people like Dr. Druker in this world. Thank you, Dr. Druker, for your hard work, your determination to make a difference, and your zest for life.
Though I’d always known “someone” had developed Gleevec, admittedly, I never tried to find them. Instead, I’ve spent the last eleven years trying to live in a way I hope would make them proud. With that said, I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than reading Dr. Druker’s kind words on the OHSU Blog for National Cancer Survivor's Day (Read full the story here). There will never be anything I can say to properly express my gratitude for his unrelenting efforts, but I will continue to strive to making them worth it.
Thank you, Dr. Druker, for your passion, your dedication, and for not just giving me a chance to live, but for inspiring me to live a life worth saving.
#Beyond Surviving #BELIKEDRUKER #SKOL