I don't declare myself "cured." I'm a superstitious baseball
executive who doesn't believe in claiming victory in the seventh or
eighth inning. What I am is a "survivor." I was first diagnosed in
September of 1985, as I was about to turn 40. I had just come back
from a motorcycle trip across France and had been coughing for some
time. I went to a doctor for X-rays and was hospitalized
immediately at Georgetown University Medical Center [in Washington,
D.C.]. I had heard of Hodgkin's disease, but not non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma. I didn't even know if I could spell it - but I had
When it came time for treatment, I surveyed the best cancer
facilities in America. A great friend of mine who is a physician
made a series of recommendations, and it ultimately came down to
three places: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda,
Md.; Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore; and Dana-Farber. I
chose Dana-Farber because of its association with Harvard Medical
School and as a result of initial conversations I had with
[Physician-in-Chief Emeritus] Tom Frei, MD. He was so positive,
available, comforting, and impressive that I felt compelled to go
I had the great good fortune of being treated by both a wise
elder statesman in Dr. Frei and an aggressive, hard-charging star
of the future in the irrepressible Lee Nadler, MD [now DFCI 's senior vice
president for Experimental Medicine]. I came north for a biopsy in
early October, and was treated into the following spring with
chemotherapy. I had an autologous bone marrow transplant in May and
stayed in Boston through July. I went back to Baltimore and
returned frequently over the next several years for periodic
examinations and other kinds of involvements with Dana-Farber.
Everyone at the Institute, from Drs. Frei and Nadler to the
nurses to the entire staff, was especially sensitive and helpful.
You go to a place because of its general reputation and its stars,
but much of your experience is determined by the folks who help you
day-to-day. I found that Dana-Farber had what we in baseball like
to call "deep depth" - highly competent, dedicated, wonderful
people at all levels.
"If you're not touched by what goes on at the Jimmy Fund Clinic,
you're not truly alive."
- Larry Lucchino
Just a couple months after I was diagnosed, [former baseball
star] Roger Maris died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I was well aware
of what a world-class athlete he was. Cancer is a miserable
disease, in part because it strikes without regard to who you are,
or what you are, or where you've been, or what you've done. I
didn't fool myself into thinking that being a former athlete myself
was going to make any difference whatsoever.
My boss and mentor [then-Baltimore Orioles owner] Edward Bennett
Williams, who also was treated at Dana-Farber, and our dear friend
Jay Emmett donated a satellite dish to DFCI so I could
follow my beloved Baltimore Orioles on TV while recovering from my
bone marrow transplant. My immune system was so weak that it wasn't
until the 37th day after transplant that I was finally allowed out
of the isolation room. I wanted to celebrate by going to a Red Sox
game at Fenway Park, and was cleared to do so by Dr. Nadler -
provided I could find a special booth that would protect me from
the elements and the other fans. I found one, and Jay Emmett
accompanied me to the game.
Throughout 1986 I returned to Dana-Farber with some frequency,
because like so many patients I had a heightened sensitivity to any
ache, pain, cough, or cold. I basically backed off regular work for
several months after the treatment and didn't become full-time
until around Christmas that year.
Note: In April of 2016, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute appointed Larry Lucchino Chairman of the Jimmy Fund. Lucchino has long been a supporter, leader, Trustee, and patient of Dana-Farber, which twice helped save his
life from cancer over the last 30 years. For the last 14 years, he has been President/CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and, after the 2015 season was named Boston Red Sox President/CEO Emeritus.
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