By Diane Mapes
When David Strong was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2004, he was devastated. He was also determined to get the best care possible, so he flew back to Boston, the city where he and his wife Anne Jannetti had grown up, to get a second opinion from the doctors at Massachusetts General.
"We knew there was good care there but they told me, 'If you're in Seattle, you're in really good hands,'" he said. "That felt great."
Strong returned to Seattle and met his surgeon and medical oncologist, both of whom had trained at Massachusetts General before moving to the Northwest. His oncologist Dr. Renato Martins was even wearing a Red Sox jersey and hat the day the two met.
"He went to Harvard," he said. "That's how he became a Red Sox fan. It was good from that day on."
Much like his favorite baseball team — which after 87 years, finally won their first World Series — Strong is incredibly resilient. The longtime executive chef even worked through most of his treatment, which included chemotherapy, radiation and extensive surgery.
"Working through treatment was important to me," said the 61-year-old survivor. "It kept my mind off of it. I used to leave work every day at 11 o'clock and then be up there at SCCA at 12 to hit the infusion room and then radiation."
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Since treatment, Strong and his wife Anne Jannetti have become avid travelers, visiting 36 countries all over the world. Their favorite destination: Paris.
"We always did love to travel but [the cancer] really put it into perspective," said Jannetti. "There's nothing like a diagnosis to make you realize life is short."
The lifesaving cancer treatment Strong received at Fred Hutch's clinical care partner, SCCA also made the pair realize the value of research, which is why they decided to make Fred Hutch a beneficiary of their retirement plans.
"We're compelled by the Hutch's big hairy audacious goals to cure cancer," she said. "That's important to us. Cancer is a strong adversary and we fought back just as hard. We had topnotch care at SCCA powered by lifesaving Hutch research on our side!"
For the patients who will benefit from this couple's generosity, that's a home run.
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