Most of us measure our success in terms of degrees, accomplishments, titles, and accounts. But a doctor numbers successes one by one – marked by the life of every patient who is able to walk out of the hospital’s doors. When Dr. Abdel Ragab began practicing pediatric oncology, unfortunately, survival rates were very low and these successes quite rare. As we prepared to honor him at the 4th annual Believe Ball, he spoke with great emotion of a particular patient who was one of his first successes.
His name was Matt. When he was 17 months-old, his parents brought him into the hospital in St. Louis with an obstruction of the bladder that turned out to be rhabdomyosarcoma. The tumor was inoperable – too large and involving too many organs. Doctors gave the family little hope that any treatment could help to save their little boy. Undaunted, Dr. Ragab called a colleague at MD Anderson, and together they discussed a radical treatment of three chemo drugs in combination along with massive doses of radiation. Chemotherapy drugs were not typically used in combination at that point and certainly not on a child. The little boy might die from the treatment, but it was all they had, and he would surely die without it. Matt’s desperate parents agreed to try it.
This groundbreaking chemo combination worked to stop the growth of the very aggressive tumor, and the radiation shrunk the tumor enough to allow surgeons to remove it. With tears in his eyes, Dr. Ragab told us that this little boy is now a grown man. He is Matt Gephardt, son of former Speaker of the House, Dick Gephardt. The entire Gephardt family, including Matt’s wife and two sons, joined us at the Believe Ball to present Dr. Ragab with a special award as our honoree this year.
Dr. Ragab was surprised and overcome with emotion as they approached the stage, and although Mr. Gephardt has delivered many speeches in his political career, none have been so difficult and heartwarming as when he thanked the man who saved his son’s life. When he finished, their hug was one for the ages, and it set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The Believe Ball exceeded all expectations. It raised over $1 million, thanks to the attendees and our generous sponsors. Throughout the night the crowd smiled, cheered, and laughed as they came together for a good cause. And the man honored for all of his successes, including founding CURE Childhood Cancer, told CURE Executive Director, Kristin Connor, “That was one of the highlights of my LIFE!”
By every measure, the Believe Ball turned out to be a true success.
Please plan on joining us on May 19, 2018 for the 5th annual Believe Ball. It is sure to be another incredible success!