Pushing the boundaries of leukemia treatment

Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present Alison Bowen, in the New York Daily News, on my sister:

Screenhunter_01_apr_22_2323Dr. Azra Raza speaks with the fierceness of someone whose existence revolves around life-saving matters.

For more than 30 years, she’s treated leukemia patients and researched how to treat pre-leukemia cells before they develop into cancer.

“Constantly I’m pushing the envelope,” says Raza, 55, the director of the Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) Center at St. Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. “That, no. We are not going to become complacent.”

Most wrenching among the many heartbreaks she’s seen was the death of her husband of 17 years, Dr. Harvey Preisler, the director of the Rush Cancer Institute in Chicago, who died in 2002 of leukemia.

“To that day, even as he could see that the end was clearly approaching him, he wanted other patients to suffer less,” says Raza.

The MDS Center near Union Square, which Raza has headed since moving to the city from Massachusetts in October, is one of a few that does both MDS research – the study of abnormal cells that can trigger leukemia – and treats patients.

A hallmark of the program is a bank containing more than 40,000 tissue samples of MDS collected over two decades by Raza – and brought here last year in a U-Haul truck.

More here.