In memoriam — Michael Katz, MBA

This has just a very little to do with prostate cancer but everything to do with cancer patient advocacy.

My friend Michael S. Katz, MBA, passed away on Sunday in New York from complications associated with multiple myeloma (although along the way he had also been diagnosed and treated for colon cancer). He was initially diagnosed with myeloma back in 1990, when life expectancy for myeloma patients was something like 3 to 5 years, and yet he lived for another 22 years with this disorder.

Along the way, Michael did a lot of very important things:

  • He became a Board member and vice president of the International Myeloma Foundation.
  • He spoke regularly to myeloma patients and their family members at seminars all over North America.
  • He helped to change the first-line treatment of myeloma by insisting that the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) champion the use of low-dose prednisone as opposed to dexamethasone in a major clinical trial — leading to a major reduction in the side effects historically associated with the use of dexamethasone.
  • He was an author on the original paper reporting the association of treatment with zoledronic acid (Zometa) to the condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) — which is seen in some prostate cancer patients.
  • He became the first-ever chairman of the Consumer Liaison Committee to the Director of the National Cancer Institute.
  • He helped to build and maintain the web site of the International Myeloma Foundation.
  • Every year, he video-interviewed dozens of physicians and scientists about their research into myeloma and its management at the annual meetings of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
  • He initiated and ran face to face and on-line myeloma patient support groups.
  • And for much of the time, while doing this, he was holding down a job as a vice-president at a major New York consulting firm.

Last year — deservedly — Michael was recognized by ASCO, at its annual meeting in Chicago, with the ASCO Partners in Progress Award, for his considerable contributions to cancer and to myeloma in particular. And if you want to know more about him, you can read what was said about him in The ASCO Post at the time.

Above all, Michael did all of these things without fuss and without ever seeking any reward or recognition for all the work he did. He has been an inspiration over the years to many in the cancer advocacy community, and just because you haven’t heard of him doesn’t mean that you may not have benefited from the example he set for others.

Rest in peace Michael … If anyone deserves that rest, it is you … and you will not be forgotten.

One Response

  1. A lot of folks talking about his passing. May peace be with his loved ones. RIP Michael Katz.

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