My colleagues and I are working to find better treatments for this disease. As one of our major efforts, we are researching ways to direct a patient's own immune system to attack the neuroblastoma. I am leading several clinical trials assessing these new immunotherapies in patients with high-risk forms of this cancer.
We have also learned that in some cases, neuroblastoma disappears on its own, with little or no treatment. We are identifying factors that may predict which patients will experience such spontaneous regression and which patients require more intensive therapy. In addition to patient care and research, I teach fellows and residents.
It is awe-inspiring to see young adults trying to maintain their normal lives while going through cancer treatment. The parents of our patients are also an inspiration; anything we can do for them as doctors and friends is well worth the effort.
I have been running in the New York City Marathon each year since 1996 as part of Fred's Team, an organization of runners who raise funds to support cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. During the most challenging parts of the marathon — including mile 17, on First Avenue in front of Memorial Sloan-Kettering — I focus on the children and young adults we treat and how hard they fight for their lives, and I realize that what I am going through at these points in the race is nothing compared to what they are enduring. As we pass the patients at mile 17, it is so exciting to high-five the kids and families who come out to watch us and stop for a hug.