Building a Legacy
He co-founded and is Vice Chairman of the Board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) to which he has dedicated the past 32 years of his life. And he was recently honored just a few miles north of here for his contributions to the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation’s project to restore and operate the newest official naval museum that preserves the history, diversity, rich tradition, and proud heritage of the U.S. Navy.
“For me, today, it is all about the legacy of my contribution to this wonderful country we live in,” explains Bob. “I say to the young people who work with me, not for me, and to my grandchildren, that there is so much opportunity here. My father emigrated to this country and always thought it was the most wonderful country.”
Bob’s father was a merchant marine, and, at 17, Bob enlisted in the Navy. “They took a poor kid out of Seattle and educated me,” says Bob. While in the Navy, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees. At age 37, feeling that he’d accomplished everything he’d set out to do in the Navy, Bob serendipitously met Richard Stevenson, the man he would partner with to change the face of cancer treatment in America.
Richard’s mother, Mary Brown Stevenson, had lost her battle with cancer in the early 1980s. “He felt strongly that her treatment was less than what he wanted, both in terms of offering cutting-edge therapies as well as the soft-touch approach,” explains Bob.
What were then regarded as world-renowned cancer treatment facilities were singularly focused on the clinical and technical aspects of cancer treatment, ignoring the individual needs of the patient and the multifaceted nature of the disease.
Richard selected a group of outstanding oncologists and challenged them to find a way to deliver whole-person cancer treatment in a compassionate, nurturing environment. And he offered Bob a position in this start-up opportunity. “Richard coined the phrase and the CTCA would later establish its model Mother Standard® of care,” says Bob, “that simply means to treat everyone like your own mother would treat you.” They sought to treat the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—not just the disease itself, with warmth, unconditional support, and respect.
CTCA take an aggressive and individualized approach to cancer treatment by combining the latest medical, surgical, and radiation therapies as well as with supportive therapies like nutrition, naturopathic medicine, mind-body medicine, oncology rehabilitation, and spiritual support to empower patients to actively and meaningfully participate in their own cancer care. This holistic approach gives those fighting cancer new options and hope.
After opening their first facility in Zion, Illinois, CTCA went on to build treatment centers in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Goodyear, Arizona, and a large outpatient practice in Seattle. They are poised to open their newest facility in Newman, Georgia in 2012, which will bring them that much closer to their goal of being available to 90 percent of the United States population. Each center touches multiple states and a population within a 300- to 500-mile radius of its geographical location. The sixth and final planned American CTCA center will either be located in the far Northeast or the far Pacific Northwest, with a target date of 2015.
Through Bob’s leadership, CTCA brand credibility has grown exponentially and the company has matured into a successful privately-held health care leader. Its Gateway for Cancer Research supports some of its own internal research interests, but largely funds others’ efforts. “We provide support wherever we feel there is important clinical work going on, such as the Cancer Society of Italy,” says Bob. “And 99 cents of every dollar that goes into the research foundation supports actual research because the administrative responsibilities and costs are born by CTCA.”
In his personal life, Bob is devoted to his wife Cindy, four children, and six grandchildren, and is proud to be a 33-degree freemason with the Chicago Scottish Rites Masonic Temple in Chicago and his Blue Lodge in Barrington Hills. This highest distinction of Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Freemasonry is awarded to members who have, among other things, performed outstanding services to humanity.
Bob’s parting thoughts and advice: “Growing up, my dad instilled in me that at some point in your life you have an obligation to give back of yourself. Make part of what you do your mission in life. Get involved in some endeavor in which you give back.”
Forest & Bluff honors Bob for his lifelong pursuit and achievement of this lofty goal.
For more information about Cancer Treatment Centers of America, visit cancercenter.com. For the Great Lakes Naval Museum Foundation, visit greatlakesnavalmuseum.org.