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November 12, 2018

November is the month we traditionally reflect upon all that is good in our lives and we give thanks. Robert Emmons, PhD, is viewed as an expert on gratitude. He notes that gratitude is, “an affirmation of good.” In other words, we affirm that there are good things in the world. He also notes that, “The sources of goodness are outside ourselves.” I love the simplicity and elegance of this explanation.

Huntsman Cancer Foundation witnesses this goodness every day. With more than one million supporters, we have the good fortune to see the best possible side of humanity. This week I spoke with Stanley from Ogden, Utah. I called him because he had just made his 34th donation to Huntsman Cancer Foundation and I wanted to thank him. Stanley has been giving to us since 2009. As we spoke, he discussed his reason for giving in a very matter-of-fact manner. Stanley noted that, “Huntsman is a very worthy cause and cancer needs to be taken care. It is one of the worst diseases we face.”

I also spoke with Eileen of Ohio this week. She and her husband Richard had just made their 54th donation. Like Stanley, they have great confidence in the work of Huntsman Cancer Institute, so they generously support our work, even though they live a great distance away.

This month, Huntsman Cancer Institute will construct space to accommodate our new Proton Therapy Clinic. Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy that delivers beams of radiation to shrink a tumor. It has been found to be an effective radiation therapy option for numerous types of cancers, including childhood cancers, and adult cancers such as head and neck tumors, brain tumors, prostate cancer, lymphomas, pancreas cancer, and esophageal cancer. Proton therapy is often the favored course of treatment when a tumor is close to a vital structure, such as the spinal cord or brain stem. The advantage of this kind of therapy is best described as the difference between using a flashlight to light the dark, versus using a laser beam. Proton therapy is the laser beam.

This new technology is expensive. It will require $30 million to bring it to the institute. One-third of the cost of this technology was provided for by donations. Without the support of private philanthropy, we would not be able to afford this technology to treat cancer. Today, patients who need this kind of therapy have to travel long distances to receive it. Soon, it will be available in Utah.

So we are indeed very grateful this November. We are grateful to Stanley, Eileen and Richard, and to all of our generous supporters. I marvel at our collective impact.

Happy Thanksgiving!

With gratitude,

Susan Sheehan
President and COO
Huntsman Cancer Foundation