Be Part of Something Bigger

By Gary Hand
District Service Manager at Life Technologies

On October 27th my wife and I will be riding as part of the Life Technologies’ Pedal the Cause Team to raise money to fund local San Diego cancer research. My name is Gary Hand. I am a Field Service District Manager, based in San Diego. I have been married to my wife Carol for twenty two years, and we have two teen aged boys. Next week I will start my 19th year with Life Technologies. I was asked to comment on why I chose to participate in this fundraiser.  The simple answer is to be part of something bigger. I wanted to be part of the Life Technologies’ Team and bigger yet, part of the fight to cure cancer.

Gary HandIt is also great that 100% of the proceeds will be going to the UCSD Moores Cancer Center (Carol UCSD ’86, Gary’87), the Salk Institute Cancer Center, and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. I have been in the field supporting all three of these sites since 1999, first as a Field Service Engineer, and now as the district manager.  Additionally, Carol was the Director of the Urologic Cancer Program at the Moores Cancer Center from 1999 through 2006. I feel remotely connected to the beneficiaries. To top it off we also love to cycle. We ride nearly every weekend, often on both Saturday and Sunday, usually clocking 25-50 miles each day. The exercise is great, and we are both pretty competitive, so these are usually not leisurely rides. The one downside is that these rides take a lot of time. Time is something that neither of us has much of.

I thought for impact I would insert the definition of “time” here, but when I searched for a short definition I found that defining time is not trivial. Take a look for yourself. There is a seemingly endless list of definitions. However, for 1,660,290 people in America this year, their definition of time will change forever. This is the number of new cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in 2013. Lifetime will be defined for the 580,350 people who die as a result of their cancer this year. This is 1600 every day, 1.1 each minute.

Like many of you, the path of my life has been altered by cancer.  All four of my grandparents succumbed to cancer in their early to mid sixties. My father died at 64 after a short six month battle with pancreatic cancer. To this day I remember the phone call from my wife telling me of his diagnosis. I was at a national service meeting outside of Las Vegas, and our district had literally just won a team building event. I stepped away from the crowd and noise, off the sand onto the grass, and took the call. It was a softball sized tumor. It was not a diagnosis, but rather a death notice. Having been surrounded by cancer, I knew too much; I year survival 20%, five year 4%. Even though Carol had been recruited by a world famous Pancreatic Cancer Surgeon at UCSD to head up the Urologic Cancer Program at the Moores Cancer Center, and we had access to the best surgeon and oncologist in San Diego, even off label access to clinical trial chemotherapeutic agents; the outcome was as predicted. Did we gain more time? Maybe a month?

Cancer has further shaped my life, in a more obtuse way.  As you now know my wife is a Cancer Surgeon. Having been recruited away from the Moores, she is in private practice and has been the Director of the Scripps Hospital System’s Minimally Invasive (Robotic) Surgical Program here in San Diego since 2006. In her medical practice she goes by Carol Salem. After all, could you imagine a urologist with the name Dr. Hand? She has sacrificed more than I can comprehend to help her patients try to buy a little more time. Many of her patients have been cured, others are terminal. Too many have been told by others that nothing can be done. Often she can offer some temporary comfort, and a little bit more time. Her average day is 14+ hours, 8-9hr on the weekends, 360+days a year. She will not turn away a patient, and treats each as if they were one of her parents. This is a sacrifice that we as a family make. We understand that putting someone else’s needs ahead of yours can be difficult. Will there be regret as time flies past and our boys grow older? Hopefully, knowing that you have helped thousands through one of the darkest times of their lives will help offset any regret.

I would like to challenge you to also be part of something bigger. To put someone else’s needs above your own. Like the ride, there may be a little pain, but in the end you will feel better knowing that you have helped make a difference.


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