John B.

The doctors, scientists, and staff of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) not only saved my life. They gave me the opportunity to live that life to the fullest.

John B.
John B. summited Mount Kilimanjaro with a
group of other cancer survivors, and his son,
in August of 2020

I was 21 years old, about to start my fifth and final year of pharmacy school, when I started to feel off. I was unusually tired and had started to experience night sweats. I chalked it up to going out and staying up late with my friends. One day, a coworker at the pharmacy where I was interning saw me in profile and gasped. I hadn’t realized, but the lymph nodes in my neck were significantly swollen.

I went to numerous doctors in northern New Jersey where I lived. The fourth one I saw finally referred me to MSK.

At MSK, I met with Carol Portlock, MD, a medical oncologist specializing in lymphoma. Dr. Portlock was fantastic and wasted no time confirming my diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and coming up with a treatment plan.

Dr. Portlock enrolled me in a clinical trial studying whether adding radiation made chemotherapy more or less effective against Hodgkin’s. 

The treatments were grueling. I thought I would have to drop out of school, but the incredible team at MSK made it possible for me to continue my studies. One day, I was scheduled for a multi-hour scan. Knowing I had exams the next day, my care team taped my notes to the scanner so I could study as the machine slowly moved over me and use every last minute to prepare. School was the thing that I used to distract myself when I was feeling sick, and everyone at MSK was committed to getting me to graduation. 

After six months of chemo, my treatment transitioned into observation. After five years, I was declared cancer free. I graduated on time, and I have been cancer free for 31 years and counting!

In the years that followed, I went on to enjoy a successful career working within the pharmaceutical industry to develop new medicines for cancer patients. Anyone who knew me knew my mantra was “better, faster, stronger.” I knew firsthand that there were patients waiting for new treatments, and I was committed to playing my part in changing the odds for as many people as possible.   

I know that MSK shares this ethos. I also know that philanthropy fuels these groundbreaking clinical trials that saved my life all those years ago. 

For these reasons, and to say thank you to those who kept me going at my lowest points, I have included a bequest to MSK in my estate plans, and I make annual outright donations. I hope that my gifts, and others like them, will play a part in ensuring MSK’s pursuit of better, faster, and stronger treatments and cures for more cancers. After all they have done for me, it is an honor to be able to give back in this way.

Advance MSK Breakthroughs With a Gift
When you include MSK in your will or other estate plans, you help our experts make significant progress in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at or 800-688-1827 for details or to notify us of your gift.