Bashing Cancer: Dr. David Becton, Chief of Arkansas Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Unit
Dr. David Becton’s interest in blood and cancer disorders began at the very start of his medical journey. He was able to to participate in a summer fellowship funded by the American Cancer Society as a medical student and was hooked on the specialty from there on out.
Becton received specialty training during his residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and went to Duke Medical Center for an oncology fellowship. He’s been a faculty member at ACH for 33 years and he calls hematology and oncology a “dynamic field,” where he’s enjoyed seeing treatments and therapies for childhood cancers drastically improve, in part through clinical research that he has been able to play a role in.
What at work makes you feel like a superhero?
Seeing the changes that have occurred — our top 10 most frequent cancer diagnoses, really with all of them, the success rate has improved so much during the time I’ve been doing this. From maybe a small chance of cure to an 80 to 90 percent chance of cure.
What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your job?
Undoubtedly the worst part is when the treatment hasn’t worked like you hoped it would and there’s been a recurrence of the tumor or occasionally we see some diseases that don’t respond well at all … When there’s been a period of time that the family has had their hopes up and the child doing well and having to go back and say we have bad news, that’s probably the single hardest thing.
Why should people attend the Superhero Dash-N-Bash?
They should go really just to see one of the really good things we have in the world right now. You can see these children who are so courageous and have fought so hard and are going through struggles that maybe a lot of us old folks would just say ‘This is too hard and I’m never going to make it,’ and these kids just push on through and do whatever they have to do.
“If you know someone going through treatment or they’re in the same school or neighborhood or whatever, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it or to say that you’re there for them. Don’t be afraid that the child is fragile or the family is too far gone for you to help them; just reach out to them and that’s going to benefit them to know that their friends are there.”
- Dr. David Becton