Dr. M. Robert Blum
When Bob Blum of Chapel Hill began to list out the top things he wanted to do when he retired, at the top of his list was to establish lasting legacies for Christie and Carolyn; two wives who died of cancer. His other major goal was to go to the Galapagos Islands with his family.
As his photo attests, he made the trip and he also left a legacy for both of his wives.
Cancer was not foreign to Dr. Blum who as a clinical pharmacologist with Burroughs Wellcome worked on Phase I drug studies. When his first wife Christie was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the battle took on a much more personal nature. It was one thing to work at the design studies and analyze data from early oncology drug trials, but quite another to sit by the side of the person you love while they undergo harrowing procedures and treatment. One of Dr. Thomas Shea's first patients at the UNC Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Christie fought a courageous battle to which she eventually succumbed. Sometimes life is not fair and that was certainly the case for Dr. Blum when his second wife Carolyn was given the diagnosis of advanced breast cancer, which eventually took her life.
On a recent tour of the NC Cancer Hospital led by Dr. Shea, Dr. Blum immediately knew he would name a space in the Clinical Trials area for Christie who received an experimental drug treatment in the Clinical Research Unit. While the care was outstanding, the physical space was not. He notes that the new space is uplifting and full of natural light… what a wonderful contrast! In honor of Carolyn, Dr. Blum established a scholarship program at the UNC School of Nursing. Dr. Blum reflects that for donors who would like to invest in cancer research, this is the place.
"I love the idea that the funds are invested in endowments that will forever enable clinicians to fund their priorities. That's the best return I've had on an investment in a long time."