Stories of Hope
Researcher Reaches Out to Community
Article date: July 18, 2011
"Meeting the people who benefit from research is an incredible motivator for people like me."
Dr. Roy Duhé spends every workday trying to cure cancer and teaching others how to become cancer researchers. His American Cancer Society-supported lab at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is working on two projects related to breast cancer treatment. One involves an enzyme called JAK, and the other is a new, unexplored area in cancer therapy that involves fatty acid metabolism.
Dr. Duhé says even when effective drugs are available, researchers try to create better drugs that aren’t so difficult to take, or have fewer side effects. “Once a person survives cancer, we want their lives to be full and productive.”
Duhé is the Associate Director for Cancer Education for the UMMC Cancer Institute and a 2011 winner of the American Cancer Society St. George National Award for outstanding volunteers. He says the stories of the women in his family have made him more dedicated to cancer research.
Duhé’s mother, Dazie, died of breast cancer in the 1970s when she was just 55. He says her experience with breast cancer pre-dated a lot of drugs available now. But even with so many advances in breast cancer treatment, his sister, Gwen, died of the disease about 30 years later at age 54. Duhé’s mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor, which he credits to new drugs discovered through research. And as he says in his fundraising letter for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: “My other sister has breasts, my wife has breasts, my daughter has breasts, and as a matter of fact, I have breasts too. I don’t want them, or you, or any of the other women and men that we love to go through the ordeal that Dazie and Gwen endured.”
Duhé says American Cancer Society events like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life are a fantastic way for researchers to meet the community of cancer survivors and volunteers. “Meeting the people who benefit from research is an incredible motivator for people like me.”
Duhé was himself a Relay For Life team captain for about 6 years, but as his research began taking up more of his time, he began joining other teams, like the UMMC Cancer Care Breast Services team led by Debbie Simpson. Simpson calls Duhé “optimistic, enthusiastic and encouraging.”
Duhé says it’s very important for scientists to come out of their labs and go into the community and understand what the real problems are. “Every cancer survivor has a unique story and it’s a way for us to learn from them.” He encourages cancer patients and survivors to participate in clinical research, to let Congress know cancer research should be a priority, and to tell their personal stories.