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This Scientist’s Pain Will Be Future Cancer Patients’ Gain

By January 10, 2019No Comments

Mary De Vera has researched asthma, arthritis and pregnancy.

She doesn’t specialize in a particular medical condition, she specializes in methods. Whether it’s scouring big data for patterns that explain how disease spreads, or surveying patients about their needs, De Vera can apply her expertise to almost any ailment. Essentially, she gets to pick her diseases.

But sometimes, the disease picks you.

On March 29, 2016, the assistant professor in UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical sciences was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer. The news was bad, and so was the timing. De Vera had two young girls—a newborn and a three-year-old. She had just returned from maternity leave with big plans to publish her arthritis research. Instead, she faced a year of cancer treatment that was every bit as trying as doctors warned her it would be. But De Vera came through it with a fresh perspective and renewed drive that has taken her work in exciting new directions.