Gift from grateful patient furthers cancer research

When Ray Slabaugh was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma in 2009, he and his wife, Lynn, knew they’d travel anywhere for the best possible treatment.

They quickly learned they wouldn’t have to go far. The Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University expertly treats even the most difficult cancer cases, such as Slabaugh’s rare form of aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Dr. Gordon Ginder, the Eric and Jeannette Lipman Chair in Oncology and director of Massey Cancer Center, anticipated the Slabaughs’ concern for having access to the latest treatment options. Before meeting with the couple, he had called peers across the country to confirm that the treatment plan he was bringing to the table was the best option.

“We went in to meet with Dr. Ginder and to our amazement, we found that he had done the legwork for us,” Slabaugh said. “It gave me so much peace of mind to have that kind of personal care. It’s reassuring to know your physician puts the patient first.”

Lymphoma is treated in Massey’s Hematological Malignancy Clinic by a staff of specialists that include physician-scientists who translate research results into patient care.

The Slabaughs created the Slabaugh Family Research Fund for Clinical Trials in honor of Ginder. The fund will support the advancement of promising research at Massey. In October, the couple was inducted into VCU’s Founders’ Society, which honors the university’s most generous donors.

“Private support is critical to advancing the promising research being conducted at Massey,” Ginder said. “Ray’s treatment was successful because others before him saw the value in supporting scientific research — this gift from the Slabaughs helps continue the scientific advancements that lead to more effective treatments.”

Slabaugh is also grateful that he received his treatment locally because he could count on the support of his friends. He endured six months of treatment, including 95 days in the hospital. When he wasn’t in the hospital, he was required to visit the Dalton Clinic every other day.

To help out, friend Dave Wilson coordinated “Ray’s Taxi Service,” a network of more than 30 friends who took turns driving Slabaugh to and from his clinic visits.

“That was the value of having exceptional care available in my hometown,” Slabaugh said. “To have that daily support from our friends during such a long treatment made everything so much easier.”

Slabaugh’s treatment was successful, and today he is enjoying remission and a return to his active and full life, with a profound sense of gratitude for the care he received at Massey.

“Dr. Ginder and his staff are my heroes,” Slabaugh said. “They made it so much easier to be sick.”

To make a gift in support of cancer research at the VCU Massey Cancer Center, contact Lee Boykin, director of major gifts, at (804) 827-0600 or