Andy Martin is a third-year student at Tulane University Medical School and is the only researcher in the world studying the cancer that is killing him — sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma, or SNUC. He went to see Tyler Curiel, chief of hematology and medical oncology at Tulane, about working in his lab to earn credits. “I want to study my cancer,” Martin told Dr. Curiel.
First Dr. Curiel tried to discourage Martin. “We don’t study SNUC,” he said. Then, despite a lack of funding and a plethora of technical research difficulties, Dr. Curiel undertook Martin’s cause as his own, devoting himself to raising the funds necessary for Martin to conduct the research on his disease:
His 11-year-old son suggested an unusual fund-raiser: that Dr. Curiel, an avid long-distance runner, try to break the world record for dribbling a basketball the longest distance over 24 hours.
Dr. Curiel, who has won ultra-marathon races of 125 miles, started dribbling a basketball everywhere he went — during his morning run, while taking his kids to school, or when walking his dog. On Dec. 15, he started out, running around the university’s track. Mr. Martin’s classmates took turns running next to Dr. Curiel through the night, occasionally passing him slices of pizza and bottles of water. A visiting marching band, practicing on the field, played “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The doctor developed tendonitis in his right elbow and had to dribble the last three hours of the 108-mile run left-handed.
The “Bounce for Life” stunt generated more than $28,000 in donations for Mr. Martin’s research. Mr. Martin was there when Dr. Curiel broke the record, giving him a hug in the middle of the track.
If you, like us, are looking for a true story of deep humanity to raise your spirits in the face of the discouraging events of the day, look no further than today’s page-one Wall Street Journal story by Amy Dockser Marcus: “Medical Student Takes On A Rare Disease — His Own: Andy Martin Donates Tissue, Then Struggles to Grow Tumor Cells in a Lab Dish.” (Courtesy of Little Trunk.)
UPDATE: In the event that our link to the Journal story doesn’t work, reader Malcolm Smordin has sent us another link to the article as posted elsewhere in a syndicated AP version of the story.