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Letter of Hope from Michael Pulsipher, Pediatric Oncologist

Read Time: 2 minutes
Author: Michael Allen Pulsipher, MD

White man, Michael Pulsipher, MD, smiling wearing a white lab coat in front of elevators

Dear Patients, Families and Their Loved Ones,

When people learn that I am a pediatric oncologist, their first reaction is, "Oh, that must be so sad." Rather than being saddened by my job, I find great joy in it. Pediatric oncologists are able to help families through one of the most challenging experiences they will ever face, and we have the privilege of curing more than 80% of the children we treat. I tell families that our goal is to offer their child a long and healthy life. I also tell them that when their child's treatment is complete, I want them to send me graduation and wedding announcements. At some point, for some of our patients, it becomes clear we will not be able to cure them. However, we can extend their lives in meaningful ways and offer a nurturing environment with caregivers, nurses, therapists, social workers, practitioners, and many more.

My main focus over the years has been the treatment of children with relapsed, refractory, or high-risk cancers that require bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Ten years ago, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) patients who suffered relapses were rarely cured. But the development of highly active chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR T-cells) has completely changed that way of thinking. I had the privilege of helping organize and implement key studies that led to approval of this treatment, and I continue to work with outstanding groups across the country to refine and improve this therapy. We've increased the cure rate of multiply relapsed B-ALL patients from less than 10% to over 50%, and we're working to increase that cure rate even more.

CAR T-cells offer great hope to improve survival and decrease long-term toxicities in children with cancer. We are constantly collaborating to improve outcomes, develop effective approaches, overcome challenges, and find ways to more effectively use CAR T-cells. We see a bright future with these new therapies and over the next decade, we are excited to develop and offer them to children and young adults in the Mountain West.

Michael Allen Pulsipher, MD

Our doctors and researchers are sharing hope with patients and their loved ones. Read more Letters of Hope.

Cancer touches all of us.