Dr. Mark DeLacure is a good personal friend and long term advisor to the Oral Cancer Foundation. While primarily a head and neck surgeon, his areas of expertise are so extensive, that OCF has been able to tap his reservoir of knowledge on many occasions and on a broad range of topics. I have also trusted him to address my own sinus surgeries when complications arose more than a decade after my original cancer treatments. I do not exaggerate about his expertise, he is a Professor of Head and Neck Cancer Research, Department of Otolaryngology, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Associate Professor Hansjorg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery, and Chief of the Division of Head & Neck Surgery at NYU. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology. I could go on, but you get the idea.
During the Global Oral Cancer Forum, we spent a great deal of time together discussing a variety of topics that I wish to expand on in the OCF main web site; which ranged from when robotic surgery is useful, what base of tongue lesions are surgically treatment indicated, vs. which should be left to the radiologist, esophageal strictures and when and why they can and cannot be improved or resolved, and many other topics that the nuances driven by individual patient idiosyncrasies, will dictate different directions of treatment. Writing about these for the large viewership of the OCF site requires more than a simple one size fits all approach, and understanding these things in detail is the beginning of meaningful content on the web site. Mark has an extraordinary level of patience with explaining the details of all this to me, and our many hours together passed rapidly.
I mention all this, as I hope to convey to my personal followers and OCF’s as well, that as individuals and as an organization; getting the details right, and fully understanding the problem and the possible solutions, as well as the obstacles to all that we approach, is essential. You cannot get all of it out of a book or technical website. Understanding is what allows the information to be applied properly and presented in an actionable manner. And there are so many shades of gray that make it all up. It is the depth of resources and connections that OCF has built up over the years, all with individuals at the top of their game in research and treatment, as well as government and non-profit governance, that nurture that need in us to relay not just accurate information…. But information that will help people make informed decisions with their treatment teams, and hopefully with their greater understanding, find comfort in those decisions when they have to be made. Dr. DeLacure is one of many who have, without compensation or fanfare, been there for the foundation for years. Seeing that we have the information necessary, and importantly, that when things change – as they do with great frequency even in the world of oral cancer surgery, ensuring we are on the leading edge of seeing those that come in contact with us, have access to it. Relationships with a very diverse group of key opinion leaders are part of what make OCF the unique entity it has become.
Dr. DeLacure has been a personal role model to me in many ways, and while it is not something he talks about much, each year he travels to donate several weeks of his time in various third world environments to do head and neck surgeries for free to an underserved population, one that would otherwise never have access to surgical interventions for their problems. That part of his world has a particular draw for me, as most of you know I spent time in a third world land as a young man also trying to help those who were injured there. Mark has asked me this year to accompany him to Africa to work as his surgical assistant in May. With OCF in good hands for only a couple weeks of my absence, I have agreed to dust off some skills, scrub in and join him in the surgical arena. It comes at a juncture in the winter of my years, that could not feel more opportune, nor more compelling.