Under the tent in the middle of Uppergate Drive last
Wednesday, Sept. 24 about 180 people gathered for the dedication
of the $75 million Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) rising impressively
just to the south. Roughly twice that number fanned out beside the
tent, all of them in attendance to witness an impressive array of
dignitaries speak of the afternoons importance not just to
Emory but to the state of Georgia and even the entire medical world
in the fight against cancer.
This is a marvelous day and a marvelous occasion, said
Ben Johnson, chair of the Board of Trustees, as he stepped to the
microphone at 2 p.m. on the warm, sunny afternoon to introduce the
first speaker, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
I am proud to be here on a day that brings basic scientific
research and clinical cancer care together under one roof,
said Perdue, who earlier this month helped announce a $1.9 million
planning grant to WCI from the National Cancer Institute. Perdue
said the grant is the first step toward WCI receiving designation
as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, which would position it as one
of the elite cancer centers in the nation.
By opening the doors to this building, we are opening new
doors to this fight against cancer, and we wont stop until
the battle is won, Perdue said.
Following Perdue was the first of several Emory speakers, President
Jim Wagner. He noted that since he has only been on campus for a
month, he had not directly contributed to WCIs construction,
but that he could pledge the Universitys support for the future.
Within these walls will be doctors to serve patients, research
to conquer disease and hope to conquer fear, he told the crowd,
which was made up of Emory physicians, administrators, trustees,
faculty members and staff. We gather today with a strength
of purpose and a sense of hope.
Michael Johns, executive vice president for Health Affairs, had
several prepared remarks, but he was most poignant when he diverted
I remember back some time ago when we thought that we needed
to do this, he said. And if you stop and think about
where we were seven years ago as a conceptmaybe nowhereits
quite remarkable to see that were here today.
Johns related the story of how the WCI, and the Robert Winship Memorial
Clinic before it, came to be. In 1937, Robert Woodruff donated $50,000
to Emory to create a clinic that would bring the most advanced treatments
to cancer patients from not only Georgia but throughout the United
States. He named it after his maternal grandfather, who died of
Johns said that Woodruffs vision was of patient-centered care,
a notion that the next speaker, School of Medicine Dean Thomas Lawley,
acknowledged and expanded on.
Work on cancer is collaborative, Lawley said. This
disease extends across so many disciplines. Whether it is among
our colleagues at Emory or across the nation, we are all in this
WCI Director Jonathan Simons explained the symbolism behind the
inspirational naming of each of WCIs floors. From bottom to
top they are: Compassion, Caring, Courage, Hope, Imagination, Translation
Discovery and Translationtwo signposts of research, discovering
new treatments and translating them to the clinicshould flow
down from research to patient care, Simons said. Then there is the
name of the ground floor, Courage, the one where patients and their
families and friends enter the building. Courage is the power
supply for the efforts flourishing on the other six floors of the
building, he said.
The final speaker was Stella Kazazian, a two-time survivor or non-Hodgkins
lymphoma, who movinglyand somewhat brassilytold her
Life doesnt end with a diagnosis of cancer, said
Kazazian, who first was diagnosed with Stage 3/4 non-Hodgkins
lymphoma in January 1996. You learn to savor life. You develop
a relationship of hope and recovery with other patients. You share
a special bond and camaraderie. You grieve when a friend dies and
you cheer like heck when one survives.
She beat cancer that time, but almost five years to the day after
her first diagnosis, the cancer returned. This June, her CAT scan
showed no sign of the disease. Now Im a volunteer here,
she said, adding that despite the diagnosis she is not yet in remission.
Its my turn to give.
Following Kazazians words, all of the speakers (as well as
Susan Henry-Crowe, dean of the Chapel and Religious Life) cut the
ribbon officially opening WCI. Following the ribbon-cutting, guests
were given tours of the facility.