When I was 12, my father died of a cancer-like condition called aplastic anemia. That was certainly a major factor contributing to my decision at a very early age to pursue medicine and what got me interested in doing something to help patients with cancer.
I saw the agony that he went through and my mother went through. More recently, though, I’ve seen patients and their families experience a different kind of agony – that of heartbreaking financial hardship due to skyrocketing health care costs.
I grew up in a blue-collar household. My father worked for the New York Central Railroad, my mother worked as a cashier at a retail store and I had to work from an early age. The only reason I could go to college, much less medical school, was because New York State had a scholarship program that I was able to enter. We were poor, yes, but we didn’t feel like we were and had what we needed to live.
Sadly, that’s not the case for many patients today.