Sam Lipson, 36, will never forget the day he was diagnosed with cancer. At just 19 years old, preparing to head off to university in Montreal, his future was suddenly cast in doubt. But Dr. Jay Wunder, the young surgeon tasked with delivering the news, put him at ease.
“He said right off the bat that I would be cured,” recalls Sam. “From that moment on, I had a positive outlook.” Sam was admitted to hospital that day and started on chemotherapy to shrink the tumour in his leg. He spent the next year in and out of Mount Sinai. Months of chemotherapy were followed by surgery to remove the cancer and rebuild his leg and knee, and then more chemo to ensure that the disease was gone for good.
Sam’s father, Jeffrey, credits two factors with saving his son’s life and limb: intervention by Sam’s grandmother, who insisted on an x-ray when Sam developed a painful mass in his leg, and Sinai’s expertise in sarcoma — the cancer that claimed Canadian hero, Terry Fox.
“We were lucky,” says Jeffrey, “this cancer is rare, it could have gone undiagnosed far longer. And then to have immediate access to world-renowned specialists right here.”
“When Terry Fox was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, amputation was automatic and the cure rate was about 5%. The Samuel Lipson Fund for Excellence in Sarcoma is enabling us to cure more sarcoma patients than ever. Today the cure rate in patients like Sam is close to 80%, with limbs spared in nearly every case. Supported by the Lipson fund, we know we can continue to do even better."
— Dr. Jay Wunder
Rubinoff/Gross Chair in Orthopaedic Oncology; Leadership Sinai Chair in Surgery; Surgeon-In-Chief, Sinai Health System
In gratitude for their son’s excellent care, Jeffrey and his wife, Beverly, generously created an endowment to support sarcoma research at Mount Sinai. “We were so thankful,” says Jeffrey. “We just wanted to help other families, and research was a hospital priority.”
Today Sam is feeling better than ever. And how is his leg holding up? “I’ll be running a 10K race this weekend,” he laughs. “Supporting kids with cancer. It feels great to give back!”