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2022 Doctor’s Day

Mar 29, 2022

Doctors day

As Massey celebrates Doctor’s Day 2022, Phil and Joan Brennan are proud to share their reasons for supporting Massey. And, they invite others to join them by making a gift to help advance cancer research and clinical trials at Massey.

“Thank you.” These are more than two simple words. For Phil and Joan Brennan, they convey something deeper than appreciation: “When you’ve been given hope for a potential cure, these two words can feel inadequate,” said Phil Brennan.

On March 30, 2022, as Massey celebrates National Doctors’ Day, the Brennans wanted to share their story. And, they invite you to join them in saying thank you to the outstanding doctors and medical teams at Massey for their commitment and dedication to providing  exemplary care for their patients – year in and year out, day to day –  like Brennan.  

Facing a cancer diagnosis

The Brennan's

Phil and Joan Brennan are incredibly grateful for the care that Phil is receiving as a patient at Massey Cancer Center. 

A graduate of the Medical College of Virginia in 1980, Brennan was diagnosed with melanoma in February 2018 following a routine annual check-up with his dermatologist and discussing concerns about a bump on his skin. After a biopsy and further investigation, one month later Brennan heard the words no one ever wants to hear: a diagnosis of cancer. 

Brennan’s initial surgery was performed by Brian Kaplan, M.D., director of the pancreas and biliary neoplasm program at Massey. Additional surgeries due to subsequent relapses were performed by Dr. Kaplan and Evan Reiter, M.D., in addition to radiation treatment led by Dr. Todd Adams, and immunotherapy provided by Andrew Poklepovic, M.D., Harrison Endowed Scholar in Oncology at Massey, as Brennan’s overall lead oncologist.  

On March 30, 2022, National Doctors’ Day 2022, the Brennans invite you to join them in making a gift to Massey as a way to honor and recognize a Massey provider who has impacted your life or the life of a loved one.

Give to Massey in honor of a doctor on National Doctors’ Day

Your gift will help ensure our providers can conduct breakthrough research that guides the advanced care provided at Massey Cancer Center. Your gift offers hope to cancer survivors at Massey and helps move us closer to a future without cancer. 

Trust and Clinical Trials

After three years of treatments and a 50 percent chance of yet another possible recurrence, Poklepovic spoke with the Brennans about considering a cancer vaccine clinical trial. After hearing that Poklepovic was a principal investigator for this trial and would continue to provide care, the Brennans’ immediate response was “Yes!”

"Trust had a lot to do with our decision to participate in the clinical trial,” Brennan said. “I trust my oncologists and medical team at Massey. They're outstanding.” - Phil Brennan

"Trust had a lot to do with our decision to participate in the clinical trial,” said Brennan. “I trust my oncologists and medical team at Massey. They're outstanding. And the fact that they were conducting the trial here in Richmond, in partnership with UVA Cancer Center, meant I didn't have to travel to participate, particularly during a pandemic."

Another key factor were the additional members and Brennan’s treatment team, including Laura Pritchard, N.P., and Kat Osipova, R.N., all of whom the Brennans hold in the highest regard.

Giving back to show recognition and appreciation

Throughout this ongoing journey the Brennans have given generously to Massey to help fund ongoing cancer research and treatments. They hope their philanthropic support demonstrates their level of gratitude for the excellent care Brennan is receiving.

"[Our giving is a] recognition and acknowledgment of the dedication and professionalism of everyone we encounter at Massey,” said the Brennans. “It is the least we can do to try to give back to acknowledge and thank Massey for what they have done, and are doing, not just for us but for everyone who benefits from treatment at Massey."

Since starting the trial in July 2021, Brennan has received two sets of clear scans, with the next scheduled in late March. Should the good news continue – and upon completion of the trial (this year) - the Brennans are hopeful for a future that will enable them to focus on continuing their healing journey. Boosting their hopes is recent encouraging news from Poklepovic that two new FDA-approved drugs will be available later this year, should further treatment be needed.

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Grateful to family and the treatment team at Massey

Throughout Brennan’s cancer diagnosis, multiple surgeries, therapies and recurrences, Phil has received overwhelming support from Joan, whom he describes as his guardian angel and pillar of strength. He credits her, their five children and extended family, and faith leaders and friends as crucial to maintaining his positive outlook while facing the many challenges of living with cancer.

The Brennans, in grateful recognition, wish to recognize the impact of the providers, physician-scientists, and all the other care providers at Massey who continue to work diligently to bring his family healing, health, and hope.

Get access to new, innovative care

Get access to new, innovative care

Treatments in clinical trials may be more effective or have fewer side effects than the treatments that are currently available. With more than 200 studies for multiple types of cancers and cancer prevention, Massey supports a wide array of clinical trials.

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