A Gift of Knowledge

MMC medical oncologist Seth Cohen, MD, with Judi and David Marrus
From left: MMC medical oncologist Seth Cohen, MD, with Judi and David Marrus.

Thanks to a generous donation, a free program is providing information about the latest advances in cancer research

Six years ago, Judi Marrus was beginning a long stint of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer in Boston. She and her husband, David, preferred to be close to their home in Rumson, so her friend’s physicians recommended that they see Seth Cohen, MD, a medical oncologist and Regional Medical Director, Oncology Clinical Research at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. Little did they know that this introduction would lead to an innovative collaboration that would help many local cancer patients and their loved ones.

Two years ago, David told Dr. Cohen that he and Judi wanted to provide funding for cancer research or another aspect of his work. Dr. Cohen suggested starting a community education outreach program. “We were taken with it,” recalls David, president of the Marrus Family Foundation. “It sounded like a terrific idea. There’s a need for this because advances in treatment and diagnosis move at lightning speed.” Dr. Cohen was thrilled. “The Marruses are the most gracious and kind people,” he says. “They always want to contribute to the community.”

To spread the word about MMC’s excellent cancer care close to home and educate the community about the latest research, Dr. Cohen and his colleagues launched the Wellness Community Lecture Series. Each free seminar focuses on a different type of cancer and includes dinner. Recent topics have included breast cancer, melanoma, leukemia, lung cancer and prostate cancer.

Speakers—including surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists—are from MMC’s Cancer Center, as well as other RWJBarnabas Health hospitals and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. The programs are held at various locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.

An interactive format

At the seminars, Dr. Cohen encourages audience members to ask questions. “I deviate from the slide set and let patients interrupt,” says Dr. Cohen. Many of the people who attend the meetings have cancer or family members with the disease. Patients are so impressed by the seminars that some switch physicians afterward. “They are amazed by what their neighbors can do,” says Dr. Cohen.

David and Judi are grateful. “It brings terrific satisfaction to my wife and me to watch as patients and their families get information and begin to understand where they fit in,” says David. “This is a gift of knowledge.”

Learn more about the Grateful Patient Program and how to make a donation.