University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Kennedy Joins UCSF Panel to Discuss Brain Cancer

By Jason Bardi, Public Affairs | October 26, 2011


Mitchel Berger, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, left, talks about caring for patients with brain cancer and their caregivers during a panel discussion featuring Vicki Kennedy, right.

Long before the term “patient-centered” became a common catch phrase in health care systems nationwide, UCSF Medical Center was leading efforts to develop patient-centered programs and to design patient-centered curricula for the next generation of doctors.

Now the Department of Neurological Surgery at UCSF is seeking to improve care for people with brain tumors by actively engaging patients’ families, friends and others who take a central role in helping their loved ones through brain cancer. When people with brain tumors are treated at UCSF, new programs in this department will aim to increasingly engage and embrace these “caregivers,” helping them to fulfill their needs.

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"To effectively confront cancer, future hospitals and clinics will have to take every possible approach – whether that means training the best doctors, offering the most skilled surgeons and oncologists, designing and testing new drugs and therapeutic approaches, or engaging patients and caregivers on every level," said UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, who kicked off a special event focused on patients and caregivers this month on the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

"UCSF's Department of Neurological Surgery is a great example of how it's possible for a truly comprehensive approach like this to come together under one roof," she added.

Hosted by the Department of Neurological Surgery and the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, the caregiver event featured a panel headlined by Vicki Kennedy, an attorney, health care reform advocate, and caregiver; and Mitchel Berger, MD, professor and chair of the department. One of the world's top neurosurgeons, Berger leads one of the best neurosurgery programs in the country, according to US News & World Report.

For 15 months, Kennedy was caregiver to her late husband, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2008, after he suffered a seizure one morning when they were ready to take the first sailing trip of the season from their Hyannisport home. It was a moment Mrs. Kennedy would not forget.

Read more at Jason Bardi, Public Affairs