HACKENSACK, N.J., Oct. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At 23 years, and merely a physician in training, Dr. Andre Goy would experience a life-changing event that would forever alter both his personal and professional journey. The ovarian cancer diagnosis of Dr. Goy's mother, Clara, became a catalyst for his unending commitment to eradicating cancer and improving the lives of those afflicted with it.
After diagnosing his mother with ovarian cancer in the Alps, Clara was taken to Grenoble where her sons Andre and Pierre were both in medical school. She had exploratory surgery to remove some of the tumor. After the procedure, the surgeons told Dr. Goy there was nothing they could do. Clara's case was then discussed at a tumor board and Dr. Goy was told to take her home on steroids and morphine and make her comfortable.
A naturally inquisitive and analytical problem-solver, he believed he should try to treat her. He convinced her doctors to let him try and he administered his first chemotherapy. Dr. Goy's mother surprisingly improved, and then had what are called "second look" surgeries later – which revealed the tumor was almost completely gone. Chemotherapy was continued every three weeks and eventually another surgery showed there was no more active tumor. Clara was in remission! Unfortunately, his mother later died accidentally while in remission.
Clara would become Dr. Goy's first of many cancer patients.
This experience changed Dr. Goy's life considerably, as well as the lives of the thousands of patients he has treated over the years. As he, his father and siblings endured this very difficult personal ordeal, it gave Dr. Goy a unique perspective and deeper understanding of what families go through as they deal with a loved one who is battling this terrible disease. He learned first-hand what it was like to be a caregiver and the passion that comes with trying to save a loved one's life.
Today, nearly 35 years later, Dr. Goy is an internationally-renowned oncologist and researcher specializing in blood cancers, particularly lymphomas. He has dedicated his life's work toward the treatment and cure of cancer. He has treated a countless number of patients during the course of his career and has been recognized as one of the top doctors for medical oncology in the United States for many years. Dr. Goy has trained at some of the world's leading medical institutions, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY), MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX), the Pasteur Institute (Paris) and Assistance Publique (Paris).
Dr. Goy joined the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC) in Hackensack, New Jersey in 2005. He is the chairman and director of the Cancer Center and head of the Lymphoma Program. He is also the chief science officer and director of Research/Innovation for Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), and also a professor of medicine at Georgetown University.
Dr. Goy has led research in multiple therapies particularly in mantle cell lymphoma, a rare but challenging Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma subtype. These therapies include bortezomib (Velcade®), leading to its approval by the FDA for relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma; lenalidomide (Revlimid®), leading to the first immunomodulatory approved agent in lymphoma; and ibrutinib (Imbruvica®), also used in mantle cell lymphoma treatment. Interestingly, these novel therapies have shown activity even in patients who have failed multiple chemotherapy treatments and became chemo resistant. In addition, both lenalidomide and ibrutinib are oral agents that can be taken at home, and therefore do not require an IV injection. Such novel therapies open the door to non-chemotherapy options for patients moving forward, with new biological combinations currently tested in clinical trials.
Throughout his career, Dr. Goy has never lost sight of the emotional toll patients and families experience during the cancer diagnosis and treatment. His own experience has inspired him to ensure patients and their families are very much a part of the treatment team, and he has developed initiatives to create opportunities for patients to come together and support each other on their journey.
To both honor, celebrate and support patients with cancer, Dr. Goy created the Celebrating Life & Liberty event, a day that gives patients and families an opportunity to come together and celebrate their journeys, and offer one another hope and support. The idea for the program he started came while treating a patient who worked as a curator at the Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United States from Dr. Goy's native France. The idea of liberty resonated, because of his belief that patients should be liberated from cancer. Having heard the rich history of Ellis Island, and its symbolic importance of rebirth to millions of new Americans, Dr. Goy convinced the National Park Service to contribute the park for the event. The first Celebrating Life & Liberty event was held on Ellis Island in 2009 and about 700 people attended.
Over the years, the crowds have continued to grow in force, diversity and determination to nearly 4,000 people. The growth in attendance each year is a powerful testimony to the important meaning the event has to patients and caregivers. It is also an illustration of the continued progress against cancer. Over the years, in addition to survivors sharing their stories in song, poetry, prose and performance, professional artists have energized and coalesced the diverse crowds with stories of hope and survival. The event brings together people of all walks of life, where cancer knows no race or religion, and everyone is an equal opportunity victim and survivor. For the first time ever this year, the eighth annual event will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, October 9, and thousands of families are expected to attend.
As Dr. Goy continues his pursuit of innovative therapies and treatment options for cancer, he will always remember how his journey began many years ago - as a young physician caring for his mother. The Celebrating Life & Liberty event is a testament to her and all the cancer patients who fight so courageously each and every day to overcome the odds. They each deserve to celebrate their life and their unique journey that got them to where they are today.
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SOURCE Hackensack University Medical Center