Longtime UK pathologist cancer survivor pays it forward
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, Dr. Charles Lutz was inspired to honor the place he works and the place that treated his cancer: the UK Markey Cancer Center. Lutz is the vice chair for research and director of cell and molecular pathology in the UK Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
This year, Lutz made a bequest of $100,000 to the Markey Cancer Foundation to fuel its mission of reducing cancer mortality in Kentucky. His future gift will be used to support compassionate patient care and innovative cancer research and treatments at Markey.
“Markey does great work,” said Lutz. “I believe in their mission, and I’m part of the mission myself, in both my research and my clinical work. But I’m also benefiting from the care they provide.”
Lutz has been on the Markey pathology team for the past 15 years and focuses his research on cancer immunology. He works in molecular diagnosis and HLA tissue typing in bone marrow transplantation for leukemias and other cancers. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he immediately knew where he would seek treatment.
From pathologist to patient
After undergoing radical prostatectomy under the care of urologist Dr. Stephen Strup, Lutz was treated by Dr. William St. Clair and the radiation oncology team for the cancer that had spread to his pelvis. He underwent several rounds of radiation therapy for the metastasis before enrolling in a clinical trial at the encouragement of oncologist Dr. Peng Wang. The study combined standard androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and an experimental drug that reduces testosterone production throughout the body. Thanks to this clinical trial, Lutz has been in complete remission from prostate cancer since beginning therapy in November 2015.
“Markey does great work. I believe in their mission, and I’m part of the mission. But I’m also benefiting from the care they provide.” - Dr. Charles Lutz
“I wasn’t afraid of being in a clinical trial, but I was initially worried that the lack of testosterone would make me lose my motivation,” he said. “That did not happen. I am loving life. I continue to run and to ride my bicycle to work. This has been the best year of my life, and I am very grateful for the opportunity Dr. Wang offered me to be on the clinical trial.”
In addition to saving his life, Lutz’s experience with his trial therapy inspired him to create a new clinical trial with his oncologist. In this trial, Lutz and Wang are partnering to study whether testosterone may inhibit the immune system by studying the immune cells in patients before and after they undergo ADT.
“As a patient, Dr. Lutz is very optimistic and full of energy,” Wang said. “Even while on treatment that typically causes fatigue, he was still working in his lab and writing grants. As a coworker, he’s a great partner and very determined.”
Paying it forward
Lutz’s gift to the Markey Cancer Foundation is part of the new Calumet Society – a group of donors who make public bequests to the foundation with a declared intent.
“Making an estate gift is not about one’s demise; it’s about the values they hold and the moral narrative they wish to write,” said Michael Delzotti, president of the Markey Cancer Foundation. “This gift is Dr. Lutz’s way to live his values out loud and declare his support of the institution at which he works and that he loves.”