60 Minutes, 2000 Messages

June 1, 2002

 

 

On Sunday, April 7, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes ran a rare double-length segment profiling three Duke Brain Tumor Center patients and their medical team, Henry Friedman and Allan Friedman of the BTC and Darell Bigner, acting director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. By Wednesday, 2,000 e-mail responses and several hundred phone calls flooded the Neuro-Oncology Program from all around the world.

Some of the e-mail messages asked questions about brain tumors. Some gave advice on topics from herbal and nutritional remedies to medical research. Many came from brain-tumor patients and family members. "So many of these messages were really touching," says program co-manager Sandra Tourt-Uhlig. "Many of them were parents of young children, saying the prognosis was bad, but they just want to live long enough to see their child graduate from high school or reach kindergarten."

"The main message of these e-mails is that people are grateful to us for providing some hope," says program co-manager Bebe Guill, who added that every message will receive a response. Two days after the broadcast, Henry Friedman took a stack of the e-mail messages home to start making phone calls.

Filming for the story had lasted nearly sixteen months, as film crews tracked the three patients through diagnosis and treatment, including surgeries, post-surgical follow-ups, new drug regimens, and patient support groups. According to CBS ratings, approximately 27.5 million people watched the broadcast.