One of the great privileges that I enjoy by working at Swedish is to meet some truly remarkable physicians. Not just doctors of tremendous talent who are national and international leaders in their specialty, but individuals who are selfless in their work and resolute in their dedication and care of their patients. A doctor that immediately comes to mind is Saul E. Rivkin, MD. In fact, he is a bit of living legend at the Swedish Cancer Institute, where he began practicing in the early 1970’s as Swedish’s second medical oncologist and spearheaded the early effort to establish the Cancer Institute as a national leader in clinical research.
It’s hard to find many people who have not heard of Dr. Rivkin. Stories abound of his stamina, his aggressive “never give up” style of fighting cancer, and his accessibility (every patient has his cell phone number), and of the very personal connection that he establishes with his patients. His fans are many, they are passionate, and they are thankful. His patients also know that they have an oncologist fighting for them that understands their plight on a deeper level.
In 1989, Dr. Rivkin’s wife, Marsha, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Marsha fought the disease in typical Rivkin style: aggressive treatment, including two-bone marrow transplants. But, in 1993 Dr. Rivkin lost his wife of 29 years. Ever since then, ovarian cancer gained a new level of priority for Dr. Rivkin. Not one to sit and wait, Dr. Rivkin took it upon himself to accelerate the national inertia of ovarian cancer research.
In 1996, he established, in partnership with Swedish and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research in memory of his wife. Since then, the Rivkin Center has been a principle catalyst for national and international research efforts aimed at finding solutions to ovarian cancer.
Dr. Rivkin and his five daughters started fundraising by organizing a walk and run on Swedish’s First Hill campus. That first year, 800 people attended. Over the past 17 years, the SummeRun & Walk for Ovarian Cancer Research has grown to almost 3,600 annual participants and has cumulatively raised more than $4 million for ovarian cancer research. It is a privilege working to support a physician like Dr. Saul Rivkin, a physician and a philanthropist who has inspired thousands to help find better treatments for ovarian cancer.
For more information about this year’s SummeRun & Walk, please visit www.summerun.org.