The cancer diagnosis came at a time when it seemed as though everything was happening – he was only 37 and soon to become president of the Denver City Council; his three children were ages 4, 6, and 9; he had just run the BOLDERBoulder 10K.
While many cancer types have added new treatments including genetically targeted drugs and immunotherapies, treatment for the rare types of cancer known as sarcomas have remained largely the same for about two decades. Now, two grants to University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers from the Sarcoma Foundation of America hope to change this.
After five years as an assistant professor at the University of Miami treating sarcoma patients and running sarcoma clinical trials, Breelyn Wilky, MD, recently joined University of Colorado Cancer Center as Deputy Associate Director for Clinical Research. Here we speak with Wilky about what drew her to Colorado and what’s next for the treatment of sarcoma.
I met Ben Walburn at 4:00am on a slushy spring morning four years ago in a Boulder parking lot outside the house of a mutual friend, Adam. It was still dark and clouds spit little wet icicles as Ben and I huddled by our cars in the glow of headlamps, blowing steam off insulated coffee cups while trying to raise Adam via text. The plan was to exploit Adam’s birthday as an excuse for a weekend rock-climbing trip somewhere dryer and warmer – was it Escalante or maybe it was Penitente? Finally, Adam texted back: His young kids had gotten sick overnight and he had to bail. Without Adam, the trip fell apart. Ben and I made vague plans to climb together at some point, but it never seemed to come together. He was in his early 40s, I was in my late 30s, and we were both busy. Besides, it wasn’t pressing – we had all the time in the world to make it happen.
After training a machine learning model to analyze ultrasound images of the neck, researchers tested their algorithm and have found it correctly flagged 97% of likely cancerous nodules of the thyroid gland.
Run by the Colorado Melanoma Foundation, the Sun Bus has provided more than 3,500 free skin cancer screenings throughout the central and southwestern United States. Along the way, providers are learning about melanoma misconceptions.