This veteran pediatric oncologist thinks a cancer treatment is imminent — here’s why

Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Richard O’Reilly began his career as a pediatric oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Considered the “master of bone marrow transplantation,” Dr. O’Reilly’s research has been instrumental in changing the course of cancer treatment, and he believes that a cure for this disease — which affects one in three people — is on its way.

“Is cancer suddenly gonna go away? No. But will we ultimately potentially be able to cure most of these cancers or almost all of these cancers? The answer is yes, I think we will be able to,” Dr. O’Reilly told In The Know.

Though Dr. O’Reilly admits that we are still “nowhere near where we wanna be,” his work as a pediatric oncologist and transplanter saves countless lives every day. He has even inspired former patients to become doctors themselves.

“I remember a kid who came in who had acute myelogenous leukemia. I said, ‘So what do you want to be when you grow up?’ … He said, ‘I’m gonna be a doctor,'” Dr. O’Reilly said. “So he got his transplant. [The] transplant went well. And by God, he got straight As and he went to Harvard and then he went to Harvard Medical School.”

“I think part of my job is not just providing as best I can the physical cure, but the other part of it is to be sure that we set up a system that maximizes the likelihood that that inner drive, that inner fire is going to be sort of re-perked up and is going to last all the way through,” Dr. O’Reilly continued. “Medicine is a glorious calling.”

Check out Dr. O’Reilly’s full story in the episode of “Lifers” above.

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