What an interesting two days I have had. Has me thinking about the matrix of talent that I live amongst.

I was chatting yesterday with Ben Miller, our orthopedic surgeon who handles all the limb surgeries that sarcoma patients need. We talked about a sarcoma symposium and how to bring more talented researchers to understand sarcoma and melanoma biology. It is in these small discussions that I find the thrill of discovery.

I am surrounded by talent.

Our cancer center exists in an academic university environment. Like a spider’s web, we are able to connect through interactions that focus on improving the lives of the patients afflicted with this illness. Wherever I turn, I find an opportunity to connect with someone.

So how does this web come to life? What are its components?

As I learn to write to you all and share my thoughts tonight I want to paint a picture of people who facilitate all the work that comes into a decision for a patient. It extends from helping my colleagues in Missouri understand angiosarcoma biology or keeping it closer to home to understand obesity and how it affects immunity.

It’s Wendee who fights harder than me to keep my ship afloat.

It’s Tina and Laura working hard to maintain a registry.

It’s Marian fixing and regulating my clinical trials.

It’s Melanie and Reggie coordinating and facilitating the research that keeps our fires burning.

Many meet “Mo” and he is just an interface to the matrix that lives behind him. Our multidisciplinary teams that focus on the clinical aspects of caring for patients, down to Erin and Juli who help schedule all the meetings and make this a reality.

I have connected with Scott Okuno at Mayo Clinic and Mark Agulnik at Northwestern in Chicago. And now I’m talking to you. I wonder how this all started? I simply asked to get to know them and found them so receptive to collaborate. It must be the midwest.

I am blessed to be amongst such dedication and commitment. I can see no boundaries.

From Terry and Jo ‘Riding It Out for Amber’; to the Bailey’s for the courage to stand up and bike; to the Yates for yelling “fore”; to Nancy’s promise; to Alissa and her amazing determination to never give up; to Hannah for making me part of her family… no boundaries.

Hence this small introduction to my team- anyone can join us. These are some of the many faces that help me fight. Many who have gotten to know me have asked me how I do it every day, facing this.. I tell them, “I married a psychiatrist” and they laugh. Well, Arwa, my wife, knows better. It is the people that surround me that I draw my inspiration to help those in need. Understanding our connectivity to each other and the willingness of so many to put their best food forward makes me proud to be  a part of all of this.



Check out these websites:

Ride It Out for Amber

Courage Ride

The Steve Yates Golf Tournament

The Jim White Foundation



5 thoughts on “Connections.

  1. Mo,
    I am so glad you are a part of our family and I do miss seeing. I can see in Molly’s eyes the determination she has to become one of you someday. You are a true inspiration to her as well as all of us. I thank you for letting her spend time with you and learning from the best! Make sure when you are sitting on your couch and talking to Hannah that you tell her to make sure she tells the big guy upstairs to be looking out for Molly when she takes her MCATS on the 9th next month. I too will be reminding her of this!!

    1. Lisa,
      I think Hannah listens to you as much as she does me. Happy to help Molly learn her way around and hope to be able to provide what I have learned back to her. Creation is forming connections in the minds of the young to better serve the future. This is the most fun I have.

  2. What a wonderfully appreciative post. I can only hope that the medical teams in our areas have such incredible relationships. As a patient reading this post, it gave me tingles and a smile. ~Catherine

    1. Catherine,
      I completely agree, I believe through media such as this we are facilitating incredible collaborations across different landscapes to help patients reach their goals.

      Thank you for the smiles.


  3. You make me proud, joyful, tearful, happy, mad (sometimes) and most of all you make me a better me.

    It is my honor to be “connected” to this matrix.

    Wendee Beranek, RN, OCN

    Care Coordinator for Sarcoma and Melanoma

    Patients of Dr. Mohammed Milhem

    Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center Clinic

    University of Iowa Health Care

    319 356 1616, pager 4348

    Fax 319 384 5117

    Follow us on Twitter!




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