Stand Up to Cancer

Anita Leonard admits she wasn't quite sure it would make a difference to ship off all those tumor samples and fill out piles of paperwork when she first started working as an oncology nurse 30 years ago. In the late 70s, cancer was a killer and treatment was rough - doctors couldn't prescribe much to help with the side effects and, if you had a rare form of the disease, doctors often could do nothing to help you. But that was then. In 2008, Anita Leonard, RN, is still with Cotton-O'Neil and she now facilitates research at their Cancer Center. What were one or two trials when she started in the field has grown to 74 at her facility alone. The best part - she's seen those samples and forms that seemed so hopeless three decades ago develop into hope for cancer patients. That's not to say Leonard didn't believe in what she was doing in the beginning - she tells me she's always believed in the power of research. It's just that, back then, it was so slow because so much was unknown. It was through that research that knowledge has been gained. Leonard says she'll step back from time and time and think about the treatments she sees prescribed today and realizes, "I played a role in that." People who used to die are alive - and that is more gratifying than anything. However, work remains. While people are surviving, people are also still dying. Cancer is still a killer. At 7 pm Friday night, the three major television networks will simulcast a star-studded fundraiser to support cancer research. Yes, even those celebrities who lead those seemingly charmed lives are touched by cancer. Friday night, we "stand up to cancer" - because Anita Leonard can tell you she sees every day that it's worth it.


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