Two perspectives. One goal.
For 18 years, the physician-scientists at the HonorHealth Research Institute have accelerated medical breakthroughs and improved patient outcomes. As an international destination, the Research Institute is at the forefront of providing patients with a better quality of life through its clinical trials and innovative treatment options.
Over the last year and a half, Dr. Michael Gordon, Chief Medical Officer at the HonorHealth Research Institute, experienced this care first-hand.
A medical oncologist originally from New York City, Dr. Gordon always knew he wanted to be a physician. He was a prodigy, entering a specialized medical program immediately out of high school, earning his undergraduate and medical degrees in just six years. After an Internal Medicine residency at the University of Chicago and a Fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Gordon led the clinical trials program at Indiana University before coming to Arizona, ultimately serving as the Medical Director at the HonorHealth Research Institute.
In addition to his research duties, Dr. Gordon also treated patients in the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center. Last year, Dr. Gordon’s dedication and expertise were recognized when he was named Chief Medical Officer for the HonorHealth Research Institute. His life and career were on a path that anyone would envy.
Then in late May 2021, the very words he had delivered to his patients were words he was hearing with a new perspective.
“You have pancreatic cancer.”
Some people use the word “ironic” to describe one of the world’s leading oncology researchers diagnosed with the very disease he has spent his career fighting on behalf of his patients. Dr. Gordon didn’t waste time thinking about that or wondering “Why me?”
With his knowledge and circle of colleagues, he had access to the latest research, clinical trials, and expert advice in the country. So, he went to work.
“It started with three months of combination chemotherapy developed at the Research Institute, which has now become the standard of care in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.”
Dr. Gordon was a model patient, even following recommendations for a restrictive ketogenic diet that early studies indicated could be helpful in his situation.
One of the most powerful moments he experienced was waiting for his postsurgical pathology report.
“You begin to understand the impact of every minute, every hour, every day of waiting for those results. It’s very different as a patient than it is as a doctor.” When Dr. Gordon received the good news that there was no evidence of cancer, he embraced it fully, from both perspectives.
“I consider myself now to be a survivor,” he said recently. “It changes you in so many ways, but it is something that I would never want to lose, because it has impacted me in such a dramatic way.”