Hutch has accomplished great things in its 25 years

Thanksgiving Day marked the beginning of the heartwarming season set aside to celebrate our many blessings. Hopefully, there’s still plenty of room — as we loosen our belts and bask in the glow of the holiday feast — to pause and appreciate the innumerable treasures in our community that are more than worthy of an additional moment of thankfulness. One such treasure is The Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle. And, this year, they’re celebrating a milestone anniversary that deserves acknowledgement. After all, 25 years is a relatively short period of time to achieve the kind of international status and respect in the medical community that the "Hutch" has brought to the Puget Sound region.

Named for a charismatic Seattle Rainier baseball player and beloved brother of the late founder, Dr. William Hutchison, the center’s roots actually go much deeper than 25 years would suggest. Although Fred Hutchison’s lung cancer diagnosis and ultimate death in 1964 served as the catalyst which brought the research center to reality, woven into the fabric of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center story is the tale of another family and their life-long dedication to cancer research.

E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., along with his wife and partner Dottie have made the business of cancer research their life’s work. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in the 1940s, Dr. Thomas began his work on the East Coast, where bone marrow transplant research was a high risk, high stakes gamble that many believed would never succeed. Together, Don and Dottie Thomas literally raised their three children working side-by-side, seven days a week, in the laboratory. The research field wasn’t always as high-tech as it is today. In fact, after moving to Seattle in 1963, their early radiation experiments took place in a former World War II military bunker as well as a dog irradiation center in West Seattle.

Today, the center, which opened in 1975, boasts a state of the art research facility that draws the best and the brightest to our region. Armed with knowledge that courage earned, dedicated researchers are making huge strides toward a cure for cancer through treatment and prevention.

There’s an old adage that "success is a journey, not a destination." In the case of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, it’s actually both a journey and a destination. It’s an unfolding journey marked by thousands of successful milestones for those whose lives were saved through bone-marrow transplantation — as well as a steady progression toward the ultimate destination of finding a cure for cancer. And for that, we should all be thankful.

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