“ Do your research. Get help to do it. Find the experts wherever in the world they may be. Contact the horse’s mouth. Get a second opinion. Third opinion if necessary. Ask about clinical trials. Don’t rely on the world-wide web (it is a web) or family or well-meaning friends.
Dr. Archie Bleyer is a very distinguished mAss Kicker. After kicking a ball on the varsity soccer team for M.I.T, he graduated in 1969 from the University of Rochester in New York with his MD. Bleyer has attained many extraordinary credentials. Over the past 40 years: he has been the Principal Investigator on more than $75 million of clinical research grants, established an impressive teaching resume, collected professional membership in many distinguished oncology organizations, has written numerous book chapters, and published an abundance of articles in peer reviewed journals such as: the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Lancet, Nature, Science, Blood, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Journal of Clinical Oncology, British Journal of Cancer, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer, CA Cancer J Clin, Archives of Internal Medicine, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology and Physics and Biochemical Pharmacology. He is currently the IRB Chair of the St. Charles Health System in Central Oregon, Clinical Research Professor at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He also helped to create the LiveSTRONG Young Adult Alliance. We are very honored that he took the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
mK: So Dr. Bleyer, why did you get involved in Young Adult oncology?
AB: I discovered that AYAs (Adolesents and Young Adults) with cancer had been ignored while we were paying so much attention to children and older adults.
mK: How did you get involved with the LiveSTRONG Young Adult Alliance?
AB: I personally challenged Lance Armstrong to dedicate some of LAF to his own age group.
mK: Pretty cool. We’re glad you did! What do you think is the main goal of the young adult survivor movement?
AB: To raise awareness of the need for national professional and public action.
mK: As a physician, what is the most common complaint you hear from young adult survivors?
AB: “I wasn’t adequately informed when I started on my cancer journey” (and there is no more important time in the life of an invasive cancer patient in what happens up front in diagnosis, staging and treatment)
mK: So, what motivates you?
AB: Actions by persons and organizations based on emotion instead of objective evidence when the latter is available.
mK: Emotion can cloud judgment, it is very challenging for those who are personally affected by these diseases to stay objective. However, emotion can also be a powerful weapon in this war against these horrible diseases. So, what makes you laugh, cry, angry?
AB: The Daily Show, animal cruelty, and our political process, respectively. The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
mK: Hahaha! On that note, what is your guilty pleasure?
AB: Wearing a black LiveWrong bracelet (next to the yellow one).
mK: Yeah, there is always has to be balance. The Yin and the yang… Too much of anything can be damaging. So, what do you like to do in your spare time?
AB: Golf, piano, play with Cookie (our Poma-Poo-Poo-Poo), analyze data, express concepts graphically, watch our grandson play soccer, help our granddaughter nurture a garden, and plan a return to the British Virgin Island for a bareboating trip.
mK: Analyze data and build graphs for fun? Wow! That’s dedication! We’re glad you do have ways to get out of your “work mode.” We always find escape in the simplest things. Who are your heroes?
AB: My wife, my sons. my daughter-in-law, and my grandtwins … not necessarily in that order.
mK: Yeah, family plays such a large roll in keeping us sane (or insane… hee hee) How did you end up at Oregon anyways?
AB: In 1974, I escaped the rain of Seattle by spending a week in Sunriver, Oregon, where we bought a rental home (called it Diastole). An acute illness my wife had while at Diastole convinced us of the excellence in medical care in Central Oregon.
mK: It’s funny how things work out. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?
AB: A full life of interesting opportunities and events makes it impossible to choose. Discovering the AYA cancer gap is certainly near the top of a long list. Chairing the Children’s Cancer Group is up there, as is helping Australia onsite launch their AYA programs and visiting Brazil and Uruguay to help create a Children’s Cancer Group. But so is bareboating the San Juan Islands on a Swan 36 sailboat. Wind surfing between Aruba and Venezuela is up there too. So are scoring a goal on my over-40 soccer team, summiting the highest mountain in the Central Oregon Cascades, and reaching the finish line in a marathon.
mK: If you weren’t a physician, what would you want to do for a living?
AB: Architect. It’s what I was studying at M.I.T. to be before the talent of my classmates overwhelmed me and I met a student nurse at MGH who 50 years later is still my first wife (of 46 years)
mK: Congrats on 46 years! What advice would you give people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
AB: Do your research. Get help to do it. Find the experts wherever in the world they may be. Contact the horse’s mouth. Get a second opinion. Third opinion if necessary. Ask about clinical trials. Don’t rely on the world-wide web (it is a web) or family or well-meaning friends.
mK: Tell us something people probably didn’t know about you… anything.
AB: I used to have dreams of dunking basketballs
mK: HAHAHA! If we didn’t have dreams, the world would be a pretty boring place. Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
AB: Yes. Kick mAss.
Thanks again Dr. Bleyer for spending the time with us! We know you are a very busy man. The adolescent and young adult survivor movement is getting stronger because of your research. Thanks!