March 24, 2016

Singer’s concert honors care received at Cancer Center

A cancer patient’s gratitude toward his Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) physician led to a star-studded concert to benefit the Cancer Center.

Wade Hayes performs during his recent star-studded concert to benefit colon cancer reserch at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. (photo by John Russell)

A cancer patient’s gratitude toward his Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) physician led to a star-studded concert to benefit the Cancer Center.

Colon cancer survivor and country artist Wade Hayes was joined by six-time CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert, four-time Grammy and CMA Award-winning artist Steve Wariner and Kix Brooks, CMA and ACM Award-winning artist of country duo Brooks & Dunn and co-host of “American Country Countdown,” for the concert that was held recently at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tennessee.

Hayes was 42 when symptoms including abdominal pains and bleeding became too severe to ignore.

A colonoscopy revealed that the singer best known for the No. 1 hit “Old Enough to Know Better” had advanced (stage IV) colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the No. 2 cancer killer of men and women in the United States.

One of Hayes’ physicians was Jordan Berlin, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Program at VICC.

“Wade is an incredible and brave individual. We put him through a lot of treatment and surgery and he maintained a great attitude throughout,” Berlin said.

After three years of treatment, tests showed Hayes was cancer free and Berlin told him to ‘Go live your life.’

Hayes found inspiration in the advice, penning a song “Go Live Your Life,” which is also the name of his latest album.

Berlin said he was touched by Hayes’ decision to headline a benefit concert with proceeds earmarked for the VICC GI Oncology Program.

“While we are definitely doing better with colorectal cancer survival, we have a lot of improvement that can still happen. The key to future success lies in better understanding the disease. As federal dollars go away, new funding sources are the key to getting that basic understanding,” Berlin explained.

Berlin noted that VICC is among a select group of cancer centers to be recognized with a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The SPORE program supports “translational” research that moves knowledge from the laboratory bench to the clinic for patient therapy.

This emphasis on bench-to-bedside research is designed to accelerate the pace of scientific inquiry in support of better patient care. VICC’s SPORE program is led by Berlin and Robert Coffey, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research.

“The Vanderbilt GI SPORE has gone a long way to better understanding the stem cells that keep the cancers growing and resistant as well as learning about new imaging. This funding from the concert will help us to keep that research moving forward,” Berlin said.

For more details about the VICC GI Oncology Program, also led by R. Daniel Beauchamp, M.D., John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery, chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences, and deputy director of VICC, go here.