State Senator Pat Steadman came to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus expecting some cake and punch and a tour of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. But CU leadership had something else in mind – a formal thank you.
The CU Cancer Center named its board room the “State Senator Pat Steadman Board Room” at a ceremony on August 31, 2016. The designation was made to honor the Joint Budget Committee member who sponsored legislation to direct the first-ever Colorado appropriation for cancer research to CU.
With President Bruce Benson looking on, Chancellor Don Elliman introduced Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of CU Cancer Center, who made the “surprise” announcement.
“Since I became director here 6 years ago, one of the highlights of my job is really interacting with our elected representatives at the state level,” said Theodorescu. “One of the standouts has been Sen. Steadman. You cannot imagine how much we appreciate your support of the cancer center.”
In his remarks, Chancellor Elliman lauded the Cancer Center for attaining the “highest ever score” following the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant competitive renewal application review this year. Since Theodorescu’s arrival five years ago, the Cancer Center has risen from being unranked to its current rank of number 22 cancer program in the country. It also has been elected to a number of elite organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) which develops clinical guidelines for cancer care nationally and internationally as well as the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) personalized medicine collaboration.
Steadman, who lost his partner to cancer, has been a champion of the cancer research at Anschutz during his tenure in the State Senate.
“Losing my partner Dave to cancer was one of my motivations for supporting a dedicated funding source for the Cancer Center,” said Steadman. “But I’ve lost many to cancer: my father, my nephew, my uncle, my friends. My support for the Cancer Center is for them.”
He went on to tell Theodorescu, “Just know that I feel very strongly about the work you do. I am really proud of the fact that we could take some of the tobacco settlement and actually spend it on research.”
Many of Steadman’s friends and colleagues, including Representative Dave Young, Senator Nancy Todd’s husband Terry, and former Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferandino were let in on the secret in advance of the gathering and joined CU officials in springing the surprise.
“I hope you will be able to keep track of the lives you have saved and the lives you have changed by the outreach and access people will have to clinical trials and new drugs and hopefully new cures,” Steadman said. “Because cancer marches on and we need you guys to catch up and get in front of it.”