A triple blow to cancer
By Rosanne Fohn
In 2018, an estimated 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, and the number of new cancer cases per year worldwide is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“Almost everyone is touched in some way by cancer, and our family is no different,” said Kathryn Mays Johnson, president of the Mays Family Foundation.
Johnson, both her parents—Peggy and Lowry Mays—and her brother are cancer survivors.
With this medical diagnosis so prevalent in their family and a commitment to help their community, the Mays Family Foundation has supported cancer research and treatment for decades. In January, the Mays family announced an increase in their legacy gift to $30 million to support UT Health San Antonio’s cancer center, which recently affiliated with MD Anderson Cancer Center. In recognition of the Mays’ gift, the UT System Board of Regents authorized calling it the Mays Cancer Center, the newly named home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“My parents’ vision has always been to strengthen this community, the community in which they live, the community in which we live,” Johnson said. “It is our hope that this will be a place close to home where all of San Antonio and South Texas can come when they hear those words ‘You have cancer.’ And I can assure you, those words are life altering.”
The combined contributions from the Mays Family Foundation will provide an endowment to perpetually support the director of the cancer center and to establish up to 10 new permanent distinguished endowed chairs to support faculty recruitment and retention. The gift also establishes the Mays Cancer Center Excellence Endowment to support top priorities for future success and long-term sustainability, said UT Health San Antonio President William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP.
“Cancer has been aptly called the ‘emperor of all maladies,’ the disease which is the most difficult to diagnose accurately and treat with precision,” Dr. Henrich said. “Defeating its complexity requires leading-edge science, teamwork, perseverance and courage, each in equal measure.
“The overwhelming major beneficiaries of this gift are patients who will seek and receive life-saving care here.”
The vision for improved cancer care in South Texas was set when former UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven challenged UT System institutions to collaborate and build on their strengths. Then, in November 2016, UT Health
San Antonio and MD Anderson Cancer Center announced their affiliation to create a comprehensive and clinically integrated cancer care program in San Antonio. At the announcement, the board of the San Antonio Cancer Foundation, formerly the CTRC Foundation, pledged $17 million to support the new comprehensive and clinically integrated cancer care program in San Antonio by funding recruitment of new physicians and scientists, facility renovations and specialized equipment for the cancer center.
“Our cancer center brings a long history of testing cancer breakthrough therapies through our world-renowned, early-phase cancer treatment program, the Institute for Drug Development, and we are proud of having founded 40 years ago the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium that is now the premier international meeting for both researchers and clinicians focused on breast cancer,” said Ruben A. Mesa, M.D., FACP, director of the cancer center.
“We are thankful to the Mays family for their exemplary long-standing support, and we are deeply grateful that they have partnered with us to further develop the Mays Cancer Center for the future. We also owe enormous thanks to the board of the San Antonio Cancer Foundation for their enduring and generous contributions.”
Peggy and Lowry Mays and their family have been key supporters of the cancer center since the early years. Peggy Mays, a former member of the cancer center’s board of governors, founded the annual fund program—the Cabinet—in 1996. The Cabinet has raised nearly $8 million to date. Cabinet gifts provide support for innovative cancer research, equipment, cancer education and patient care programs.
In addition to serving as president of the Mays Family Foundation, Johnson is a member of the Mays Cancer Center Board of Governors and is a past president of the SA Cancer Council, formerly known as the Cancer Center Council. Over the past 33 years, the council has supported the cancer center through fundraising, volunteer services, community outreach, and patient education and assistance. The SA Cancer Council has contributed more than $4.7 million to support the mission of the cancer center.
“As longtime supporters and advocates for our cancer center in San Antonio, we are pleased to provide significant financial support at this critical time,” said Lowry Mays. “We are inspired by the cancer center’s exceptional leadership, mission, vision and goals, and we are especially pleased that our investment will support the Mays Cancer Center as we continue to develop the affiliation with MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“We are very proud that our family name will forever be associated with this cancer center, which serves millions
of people in San Antonio and across South Texas.”
In honor, to help
Peggy and Lowry Mays will be honored for their support in the fight against cancer at the 2018 President’s Gala Sept. 29 at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.
The gala is an annual event that raises money for the university and to support the work of faculty and students. This year’s event also marks the 50th anniversary of the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.
Proceeds from the gala will establish the Peggy and Lowry Mays Patient Care Endowment. The endowment will support the Patient Supportive Care Program at the Mays Cancer Center, the newly named home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The program helps people diagnosed with cancer by providing critical support, from transportation for daily treatments to prescription drug assistance, nutritional supplements, temporary lodging for out-of-town patients and funds to meet patients’ other emergency needs. The endowment also will provide wellness and survivorship programs to cancer patients, helping individuals prepare for a healthier life after treatment.
For more information, go to makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/gala or call 210-567-2508.
Long School of Medicine celebrates golden anniversary
Alumni are invited to attend a 50th anniversary celebration before the President’s Gala at 6 p.m. Sept. 29