day 24 jamming for Sam

Tomorrow is Sam’s Jam V ( the annual motorcycle ride in honor of Dr. Sam Hassenbusch.

To quote the site, which says it best:

“Sam’s Jam: Celebrates the life and work of co-founding member Dr. Samuel Hassenbusch, M.D., Ph.D. “Dr. Sam”, as he was known, was a world-renowned neurosurgeon and researcher who lost his battle with glioblastoma multiforme in 2008. Sam’s Jam honors his spirit, his vitality and most of all, his commitment to patient care and research. Generally held on the second Saturday in October, the day features a police-escorted ride to a local venue featuring live music, unique vendors, and entertainment.”

I joined the Neurosurgery department (as a laboratory scientist not as a medical doctor), in 2005 and although I did not know Sam very well, he was a colleague whom I admired him. His work on pain management was well regarded throughout the institution and the broader cancer community, and he was known as a very effective surgeon and a caring doctor. 

The story of how he battled his cancer is a remarkable one. Here is Sam with Katie Couric telling the story of how he found his disease:

The story continues here, with Sam telling us about why he participated in clinical trials: 

While I think of Sam often, tomorrow is a good day to remember his accomplishments, his spirit and his unbending desire to fight cancer in every way he could. I am learning more from him now. When I think of what he faced – almost certain death from a form of cancer that he knew so intimately from his years of treating it, and how he responded with optimism and courage, I realize that what is ahead of me is a walk in the park. I love his dedication to research, and when he says he wants Dr. Heimberger to think of him as a 6-foot lab rat. I love how he was totally open about his cancer and shared his experiences, which has encouraged me to do the same. And I love the Riders for the Cure group that he co-founded – the bikers at MD Anderson who raise money for research.


I used to ride motorcycles as a student and post-doc, and then when I got married and we wanted to have kids I stopped, trying to be more responsible, and thinking I’ll go back to it one day, when the kids are older. But when Irene was diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, and we got through her year

of treatment it changed us both. I woke up one morning and wondered what I was waiting for? Cancer changes you, and you begin to wonder whether all the tomorrows you assume you have, will really happen. This is not bad – it is empowering, and a reminder to live every day as best you can. Its a cliche, sure, but a really good one!

So I ride again, not as much as I should, not as fast as I should, and am a proud member of the Riders for the Cure. 

See you on the road tomorrow!


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