Hippocrates said: “Art is long, and life is short.” The creation outlives its creator. How does that translate to my work and the work of the CLL Society?
Impact on those with chronic lymphocytic leukemia / small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL / SLL)
A good friend reviewing my recent work for CLL Society said the word he chose to describe me was impactful. He remembers that I, with others from CLL Society, had led the charge to save an imperfect but potentially helpful CLL drug (used chiefly for short-term bridging to other therapies) by organizing a persuasive letter to the FDA of 40 experts. That drug is still available.
The CLL Society team and I pushed the NIH, CDC, and FDA to change access to COVID-19 pre-exposure prophylaxis and therapy. It made life better for hundreds of thousands. But only for a while until the virus mutated to the point the protective antibodies no longer provided protection.
Art lasts, but does impact last? Is it “long”? Sometimes. But it’s got to be huge. Much bigger than our small victories.
What matters in CLL / SLL work?
The bigger question is: Does short or long even matter when making an impact? Maybe not. Not lasting doesn’t mean it is not worthwhile. I think a positive impact does change the world in a way that can’t be fully understood. Quoting another Greek: “You can’t step into the same river twice.” It’s the impact, not its durability, that counts. Though it may be transient, it is not ephemeral. It is fixing the world matters, even if it’s only a temporary fix for a minority of those with an orphan cancer, such as CLL / SLL. Switching from Greek to Aramaic, Rabbi Tarfon says in the Talmud: “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.”
These are some things I think about in my work for CLL Society.
What I know for sure is that the CLL Society will outlive me. The creation will be “long”, around long after my wife and I, the creators, have passed.
Stay strong. We are all in this together.
Brian Koffman MDCM (retired) MS Ed
Co-founder, Executive VP, and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.