Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease

Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease

Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease

Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease


In the 1950s, ninety-five percent of patients with Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of lymph tissue which afflicts young adults, died. Today most are cured, due mainly to the efforts of Dr. Henry Kaplan. Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease explores the life of this multifaceted, internationally known radiation oncologist, called a "saint" by some, a "malignant son of a bitch" by others. Kaplan's passion to cure cancer dominated his life and helped him weather the controversy that marked each of his innovations, but it extracted a high price, leaving casualties along the way. Most never knew of his family struggles, his ill-fated love affair with Stanford University, or the humanitarian efforts that imperiled him.

Today, Kaplan ranks as one of the foremost physician-scientists in the history of cancer medicine. In this book Charlotte Jacobs gives us the first account of a remarkable man who changed the face of cancer therapy and the history of a once fatal, now curable, cancer. She presents a dual drama - the biography of this renowned man who called cancer his "Moby Dick" and the history of Hodgkin's disease, the malignancy he set out to annihilate. The book recounts the history of Hodgkin's disease, first described in 1832: the key figures, the serendipitous discoveries of radiation and chemotherapy, the improving cure rates, the unanticipated toxicities. The lives of individual patients, bold enough to undergo experimental therapies, lend poignancy to the successes and failures.


At 38, Doug Eads is the picture of health. He is Fremont's city clerk—an active,
articulate man who loves to romp with his two young children, jog, ski the Sierras
and race around on a racquetball court. If Eads had been born five years sooner,
he wouldn't be around to enjoy all that. He'd be dead. in 1965, Eads noticed a
small lump in his groin. a doctor told him it was Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of
the lymphatic system that would kill him in three to five years. But at the Stanford
University Medical Center … scientists were trying some new treatments involving
irradiation and drugs. Eads became a patient in the Stanford clinical trials…. They
worked, and Eads has been free of the disease for the last 17 years. Today he and 400
other Hodgkin's patients who were treated—and cured—in the trials at Stanford in
the last 20 years will gather at the university to celebrate their health and the suc
cess of the program. the patients meet once more with Henry S. Kaplan and Saul
Rosenberg, the two doctors who directed the bold treatment and research effort.

San Jose Mercury News, May 8, 1982

The fountains in front of Stanford University Medical Center had just been switched on, and a family of ducks glided across the reflecting pool. Sunlight, filtering through the lattice trim, gave the hospital a lacy façade. Asparagus ferns dangled from hanging baskets; a medical student rode by on his bicycle. As Maureen O'Hara walked toward Fairchild Auditorium, she felt out of place in her silky dress and heels; it was the first time in years that she hadn't worn a nurse's uniform to the hospital. Her face looked freshly scrubbed, with soft freckles scattered across her cheeks. Her loose brown hair bounced as she walked. Maureen didn't know what to expect. When she had received an invitation to “Twenty Years of Research and Progress in the Treatment of Hodgkin's Disease,” she had thought it would be wonderful to see some of her former patients. She hadn't anticipated the scene she was about to encounter.

Over four hundred people filled the auditorium—women straight from their hairdressers, men and children in their Sunday best. the atmosphere felt . . .

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