How MSU Saved Colleen’s Life

The Spring Issue of the MSUAA Magazine tells the story of the Spartan who invented one of the most effective cancer drugs available today. It’s a tale that touched Colleen and me in a special way, so this issue’s Executive Director column had a highly personal dimension. Here it is. – Scott Westerman

The last time I looked, there were over 400,000 of you who have a degree from Michigan State University. There are just about as many women in our country who are living with ovarian cancer.

And my wife, Colleen is one of them.

Colleen was lucky. We discovered that she had the BRCA gene, a predictor of ovarian cancer. She had no symptoms. Most ovarian cancers don’t present any until it’s too late. But she decided to have a proactive hysterectomy anyway.

That’s when we found out.

it was just four weeks later that I became your head servant at the MSU Alumni Association. And as I started my new job, she started a course of chemotherapy. The drug she used was invented at Michigan State University. You’ll read in this issue how that drug has saved thousands of lives since it was first discovered by a Spartan. Colleen is one of those lives.

Buy April of last year, she was pronounced in total remission. As this issue went to press, we had another of those regular, scary visits to the doctor that all cancer survivors have. We got good news. She’s still cancer free.

It’s easy to focus on the high profile things that MSU does well. We win basketball and football games. Our on-campus living experience, from our neighborhood dormitories to the breathtaking culinary experience at the new Brody Square cafeteria are rated among the best anywhere. Every year we turn 12,000 new Spartans loose into the world. Because of their excellent education they are likely to get good jobs, even in this tough economy. And the statistics say that they can look forward to long and rewarding careers.

But beyond all that, stories like Colleen’s remind us of the critical importance of Michigan State University’s World Grant Mission. At this moment, there are more than a dozen research projects under way at MSU that have world-changing potential. From protecting the safety of the food we eat to protecting our soldiers from improvised explosive devices, Spartan research teams are discovering new solutions. And Spartan alumni are applying those solutions to expand knowledge and transform lives.

In a world desperately in need of peaceful warriors who use their MSU knowledge to fight for a better future for all of us, Spartans are never beaten.

My wife is living proof.