Dr. Nicholas J. Vogelzang is a member of the KCA’s Board of Directors and is a genitourinary medical oncologist at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.
We spoke with Dr. Vogelzang about serving on the Board and his work in medicine.
What motivated you to start the Kidney Cancer Association?
I was brought to the University of Chicago in the early 1980s with the task of developing treatments for genitourinary cancer. I had not treated a lot of kidney cancer patients before, but quickly realized and experienced the lack of good treatment options available for patients during this time. While there was one drug on the market, interferon, it was not yet FDA approved and had a lot of side effects that were difficult for patients to control. This made me wonder what could be done to make their lives better.
As many of my patients were widely scattered, I came up with the idea for a sharing day. Our first meeting took place in a small conference room with about 20 patients. We soon grew from 20 patients, to 25, and to 30. It really began to click that this was important. Eugene P. Schonfeld attended one of these early meetings and also saw their value. We began the incorporation process from there.
How long have you worked with the KCA?
I’ve been with the KCA since its inception. When we first started meeting, we didn’t predict it would become a worldwide organization. We originally envisioned it becoming a cluster of regional groups meeting independently across the country. The barriers of patients meeting with one another in a clinic are pretty high. While patients come at different times and have their medical needs addressed independently, there is still a great commonality. Pulling together to have a forum for discussion really made a difference.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
I think I would have to say Napa. We like wine and have a timeshare there, so we get to go there a fair bit throughout the year.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time, but I try to get out and ride my bike on the weekends. I used to be able to bike every day, but my long hours and commute time has made that difficult.
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
That I was a little league pitcher with a wicked side arm pitch. I was so tall that when I threw side arm it felt like the ball was coming out of third base. Alas, I was not picked up by the major leagues.
What prompted/inspired you to go into the medical field?
I’d have to say that it is related to family and faith. My dad was a pastor and my mom a teacher, so service to others was a big part of my family. Church was a big part of our lives, academic excellence was strongly emphasized, and curiosity was always encouraged. My siblings and I share a deep commitment to service to others.