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Jim Polacheck's Gift Supports Brain Cancer Research

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In February 2013, Jim Polacheck noticed he was losing some basic cognitive skills and went to his neurologist.

About two years away from retirement as vice chair at GENCO in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jim was shocked to learn his diagnosis. He had glioblastoma multiforme — an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Jim and his wife, Terri, took action right away. They were prepared to go anywhere in the country for him to receive the best treatment possible.

Brain Cancer Treatment Close to Home

After talking with their neurologist, they decided to meet with Robert Friedlander, MD at UPMC in their own hometown before looking any further.

Jim’s neurologist called Dr. Friedlander. Within three hours, they were at his office, hopeful that he just might have the answers they needed.

After a long discussion, Jim and Terri decided to put their trust and hope for the future in the hands of Dr. Friedlander and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center​ and its academic partner, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

“I decided to put all my trust in my doctors and do everything they recommended. I’ve never regretted that decision,” Jim said.

The tumor in Jim’s brain was in a place that could have led to the loss of many of his motor functions.

Luckily, through a careful surgery performed by Dr. Friedlander and radiation at the Hillman Cancer Center, Jim made a full recovery.

Funding to Find a Cure for Brain Cancer

Jim and Terri were overly happy and impressed with the care Jim received from:

So, they decided to make a generous gift to support glioblastoma research at UPCI.

“We’re in the race of our life, and giving back is so important. We need a cure, and we need it fast,” Terri said.

Jim and Terri’s gift established a pilot translational study fund for neuro-oncology research to support:

  • Finding innovative approaches to brain cancer treatment.
  • Assessing the response of those treatments in people with malignant gliomas.

Their gift will also allow UPCI and UPMC to expand their leadership role in developing novel therapies and imaging techniques. This will greatly impact the way doctors detect, diagnose, and treat brain cancer in the future.

“We feel beyond blessed for the incredible care we have received, and we look forward to seeing cutting-edge research continue at UPCI,” Terri said.

Jim is now enjoying retirement and has a check-up MRI every three months — his most recent screening showing no progression of the disease.

“I faced my diagnosis head on and chose to live every day to the fullest. We never regretted our decision to stay with the physicians at UPMC,” Jim said.

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Our patient stories profile a number of patients who have had surgery at UPMC. Although everyone's care experience is unique, we hope that sharing these stories will help other prospective patients and their families better understand these procedures and their potential benefits.

Jim's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.