Fighting Together: Illumination Gala

In 2022 alone, an estimated 1.9 million Americans will receive a new cancer diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society. For those who get the heartbreaking news, it often means the beginning of a long and difficult journey. Through groundbreaking research and treatment, the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine works to ensure it is a road no one has to travel alone. The center is a leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention, education and community outreach, providing care to more than 75,000 patients annually.

Like all health care organizations, Siteman has been impacted by the pandemic. While the center was able to continue providing care to its immunocompromised patients, there was a 50% reduction in cancer diagnoses in 2020 and 2021 due to individuals opting out of routine screenings. “The delay in screening means that we are seeing more later stage presentations,” the center’s director, Dr. Timothy J. Eberlein, says. “It’s critical that people receive tests like mammograms and colonoscopies because they can end up saving their lives.”

Siteman brings dedication and care to creating innovative treatment options for all forms of cancer. “Our elite teams of investigators keep pushing the boundaries to develop new ideas,” Elberlein says. “It happens across the entire center and isn’t limited to one tumor type. That’s what makes Siteman so special.” As one of the largest cancer centers in the country, Siteman cannot rely solely on government funding for its critical work. Philanthropic support also is equally important, allowing researchers to gather crucial data that can be used to secure larger grants from organizations like the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society.

One of the major fundraising events that benefits Siteman Cancer Center is the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Illumination Gala. Since 2007, the event has raised more than $35 million to support research. Hosted by Wayne Brady, this year’s gala will be held June 4 with both an in-person event at The Ritz-Carlton and a virtual option. “Illumination has been critical for keeping Siteman on the cutting edge of innovation,” Eberlein says. “It’s a perfect example of the importance of strong community partnerships. With that support, we can explore new paradigms of care and bring the treatments of tomorrow to our patients today.”

The involvement of Bruce Rubin and Ken Steinback in this year’s gala highlights the importance of creating a strong relationship with the community. Both men are patients of Siteman, working with Dr. Nancy Bartlett to receive treatment for lymphoma. “Dr. Barlett is one of the leading experts in the field,” Eberlein says. “She and her team have been instrumental in perfecting targeted treatments for specific kinds of lymphoma, as different types of the disease require different interventions for success. As two people who have benefited from this expertise, Bruce and Ken have rolled up their sleeves to support Siteman through the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and this partnership allows us to make new investments in treatments and help more patients like them.”

As patients, Rubin and Steinback have a deeper understanding of the impact the center’s research has, and they know first-hand about the quality of care provided. “From the moment I passed through the doors to Siteman, I could tell that I was in great hands,” Rubin says. “It’s a busy place, with patients seeking treatment from near and far. Every member of the Siteman team does their job efficiently and with great care. Dr. Bartlett and her team make me feel confident and strong enough to beat my disease.”

The assurance Siteman offers extends to patients’ families. “When someone faces a cancer diagnosis, it naturally presents worry to their loved ones,” notes Rubin’s wife, Judy. “At Siteman, they have resources to help the patient’s spouse and family. In addition to the cutting edge treatment plans, patients receive organizational summaries designed to relieve confusion about the process and counseling support for both themselves and their loved ones. I never felt alone or bewildered. They helped me be a better ‘rock’ for my husband. Dr. Bartlett provided calm confidence in addressing Bruce’s disease. Her sincerity, coupled with her impressive skills, gave us the conviction that we were in the right place to face a rough diagnosis.”

The Illumination Gala benefits cancer research at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. The event is June 4 at The Ritz-Carlton. Pictured on the cover: Siteman patient Bruce Rubin and his wife and Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital board member, Judy Rubin. For more information, call 314.286.0602 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Pictured at top: Illumination 2022 lead ambassadors Susie Steinback Sachs, Ken Steinback and family | Drs. Timothy J. Eberlein and Nancy Bartlett
Photos courtesy of Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital

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