My name is John Quackenbush and I am a Professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. I am also the co-founder of GenoSpace, a precision-medicine software company.
I have devoted myself to the fight against cancer and have worked hard to uncover the mechanisms that drive the disease. My ultimate goal, and the goal of my colleagues who fight alongside me, is to develop more effective therapies for disrupting these biological processes and discover better ways to match each patient to the best available treatment.
Although the extraordinary efforts of dedicated researchers, scientists, and physicians have been invaluable in improving survival rates and quality of life for patients, there is still a long road ahead. Despite our many successes, we scientists continue to struggle for funding to support our work. Budgets at the National Institutes of Health and other federal research agencies are being increasingly cut. What this means in practical terms is less time spent actually working on cures and more time trying to get the money needed to keep going.
From my perspective, this is just wrong. Every day at Dana-Farber, I come face-to-face with the toll that cancer takes on patients and their families. I witness their struggles, pain, fear, and anxiety. But I also see their strength, resilience, and resolve. During the past few years, I watched my father-in-law wage a valiant, but ultimately losing battle against colon cancer. I have seen firsthand how it devastated him and his entire family, including my wife. And that experience has given me even greater respect for the silent struggles that all cancer patients undergo.
Today I am taking on a challenge, doing something no one who knows me would have ever expected. For four months, I will train harder physically and mentally than I ever have, working to build my strength and endurance. On May 14, I will put on boxing gloves, step into a ring with an opponent who has dedicated himself equally, and fight for three rounds in what I am learning is a sport unlike any other. And I do this knowing that my struggles are nothing compared to those of patients with cancer. On May 15, I will be alive and well knowing without doubt that my small battle has ended.
I am not fighting for myself, but for everyone touched by cancer—past, present, and future—knowing that today’s research will lead to tomorrow’s cures. I am fighting for young scientists who are committed to applying their talents and abilities in the search for cures, but who struggle for financial support. And today, as I put myself to the test, I am asking for your support in this universal cause by making a donation. So please give.
Beyond donations, tickets for the event will go on sale soon, and I promise to let you know when they do. I hope to see many of you at the Boston House of Blues on May 14. Thanks to all of you who are backing me, both financially and emotionally, in this endeavor. Let’s get ready to rumble!