Tennessee's Pat Summitt Leaves the Ball Court

Tennessee's Pat Summitt Leaves the Ball Court

04.20.12 | By

We can - and do - talk about the Alzheimer's disease: what it is and how you detect it. We can talk about what it means for patients and our economy if we don't find new treatments and a way to delay its onset. We can talk about what is being done to find new treatments. We can talk about how the research is done and what drives the researchers. But in the end what matters is the people and how this horrible disease affects lives, for example Pat Summitt and her early exit from a brilliant coaching career.

But in the end, what has been done, is being done and what will be done to find a new treatment or even a cure for Alzheimer's disease occurs for a simple reason. John Castellani, PhRMA's president and CEO, put it in perspective at PhRMA's recent Annual Meeting when he said:

"Maybe not today, but I, my wife, my sons, my daughters-in-law, and even my 15 month-old grandson, will one day be patients...My hope - especially for my grandson - is that we will have innovative medicines and yet-unimagined medical options available to help treat what ails us, ease our pain, and manage and cure our diseases."

And it is that simple. Whether it is Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, a rare disease or a chronic disease, we all, and those we love most, have been, are or will be a patient. We want medical options. We want to know that the best minds in industry, academia and government are working on finding treatments and cures for what ails us. We want to know hope and live it.

Pat Summitt's untimely departure from coaching isn't yet the end for her. She has committed to teaching and working for as long as she can. She is a fighter and her record of wins and the lives she inspired at Tennessee - from her players to students to basketball fans around the world -- is second to none.

Someone as admirable and, yes, even heroic (an over-used but in this case appropriate word) as Pat Summitt deserves our best efforts to push the envelope and to keep working and doing all we can to find new and better treatments. And because someday we will all be patients, we also owe it to ourselves and those we love.

Follow Grady on Twitter @GradyAtPhRMA

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