Donald (Dee)'s Story
Donald (Dee) Rowe loves his job so much that he often says he’s never worked a day in his life. As a longtime coach and athletic director for UConn, sports are his passion, and he is grateful to still be able to do what he loves at age 85. He feels especially lucky given that 10 years ago he was treated for an aggressive melanoma that had spread throughout his body.
After having surgery to remove a part of his liver, as well as his spleen, gallbladder, and adrenal gland, Dee decided to enroll in a phase 3 clinical trial of an immunotherapy called Oncophage, developed by Pramod Srivastava, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and a member of the Cancer Research Institute Scientific Advisory Council.
Oncophage is a personalized cancer vaccine made from molecules, called heat shock proteins, isolated from a patient’s own tumor. Heat shock proteins are good carriers of antigens that can stimulate an immune response. Several clinical trials of the vaccine have been conducted in a variety of cancer types, including melanoma, kidney cancer, and glioma (a type of brain cancer), and in 2008 the vaccine was approved for use in Russia, making it the first cancer vaccine approved anywhere in the world.
We spoke with Dee about why he is so grateful to his doctors and what making a difference in the world means to him.