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OU hosts dedication for cancer center building

BY DARLA SLIPKE dslipke@opubco.com Published: July 1, 2011

Just a few years ago, Jonathan Killgore's late wife was flying to Maryland at least once a month for experimental cancer treatments that weren't available in Oklahoma or nearby states.

On Thursday, Killgore attended a dedication ceremony for the new Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center. The $128 million building is designed to bring cutting-edge cancer treatments and research to the state.

A waiting room area on the second floor is named for Killgore's late-wife, Anna Cesario Killgore, who died in 2009 after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Killgore's first thought Thursday was how proud she would have been.

“It's great that we finally have something like this in Oklahoma,” said Killgore, 31, of Norman.

Several hundred Oklahoma residents gathered at a “healing garden” outside the new building for the dedication ceremony Thursday morning. Guests also lined the rock wall bordering the garden and looked down from the first few stories of the building, located on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City.

Dream is realized

Ten years ago, legislators tasked OU with creating a statewide cancer center. On Thursday, OU President David Boren praised Oklahoma residents for making the longtime dream a reality.

“This is a building that love and care and concern built,” Boren said, standing in the shadow of the seven-story building. “It is a symbol of what we can do in Oklahoma, as a model for the nation, when we do it together.”

Physician and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee said doctors and researchers today understand cancer in a much different way than they did 10 years ago. They are starting to recognize fundamental commonalities between different types of cancer. In doing so, they've been able to transform cancer from an automatic death sentence to something that can have long-term survival rates.

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