BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dr. Roswell Park founded the Buffalo-based, world-renowned campus that bears his name in 1898.
Now, more than 100 years later, his great-grandson is being treated there for Multiple Myeloma, a form of blood cancer.
“It makes me particularly proud that my great grandfather, (who died in 1914) who never would meet me, in some little way must have been looking out for me. Here I am benefiting from him,” said Roswell Park.
Park as first diagnosed in 2001 with a condition that can’t be cured but can be managed through chemotherapy and stem cell transplants. He had twelve-and-a-half good years in remission.
“I really had a nice run, and it wasn’t until October, November, when I started feeling something in my hip, and I kind of got that old ‘Myeloma feeling’ again.”
His wife Debra, who once worked at Roswell Park, knew from the start what he was up against, but says he refused to let cancer rule his life.
She said Park said, “‘I will do everything that I can to beat this, but I’m not living my life as of I have cancer.’”
The 60-year-old Director of Academic Support at Buffalo State College has two passions in life: sailing and reading. He and Debra have a 31-foot sloop, and Park plans on taking part in the Leukemia Cup Regatta in Buffalo on August 2.
He is not concerned about being weak after a mega-dose of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants.
“When the Leukemia Cup came around, featuring the kinds of cancer that I myself suffer from, that’s just a slam dunk. I’m the Leukemia Cup poster boy for Buffalo.”
Debra says even if his doctors say this isn’t the time, he’ll “mast-up” and he’ll be there because he wants to be there.
“This is what he lives for,” she said.
Ironically, Faith Graham, the nurse who gave him the stem cell transplants, was also once a Roswell Park patient who recovered. At first she was a little nervous having a celebrity patient.
“Then I thought, well, maybe it’s kind of an honor to be able to do it because he is the great grandson of ‘The’ Roswell Park!”
People at the hospital like to be around Park because he sails through life with a good attitude and is a model patient. He is also a tried and true believer in the cancer institute and what it has accomplished.
“It’s not the treatment I get. It’s the treatment that everybody gets. It’s the friendliness, the professionalism, the compassion that I see on every level here. You just can’t duplicate it,” he said.
Park calls his great grandfather “a medical visionary” who realized that, in addition to treating patients, education and research were critical components in the fight against cancer.
Today his great grandson is benefiting from that approach.