snyder story

This is Why I Head to the Hill: 
Dr. James Snyder

Something remarkable happened at Head to the Hill last year.

Two years ago, a patient I care for at Henry Ford Hermelin Brain Tumor Center asked me about Head to the Hill. I had never attended, but, intrigued, I changed my schedule to attend. While attending, I realized the patient who introduced me to this wonderful event wasn’t there. Come to find out her treatments were too costly, and she could not work, so she could not afford to attend Head to the Hill in 2018.

This troubled me. While I had participated in research to illustrate the financial hardships of a brain tumor diagnosis, I had done little to contribute to a solution. We need patients at patient advocacy events, otherwise we are missing the mark and risk not hearing the full burden of this disease. The team at Henry Ford Hospital reached out to our friends at Head for the Cure to create matching financial support for five patients from the brain tumor community to attend in 2019 and it was a tremendous success.

Our government representatives were truly moved by the united voice of our five patient advocates and myself, a clinician from their community. Our message was much more impactful than when I came alone in 2018. As a team, we illustrated the extreme need for research and awareness for brain and spine cancers on a personal level, as well as how institutions, researchers, and doctors in members of Congress’ home states use federally-funded research to achieve these goals, advance science, and provide critical resources to our communities within their voting districts. So much so, that Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) shared one of our patient stories on the Senate floor advocating for medical research funding.

Notably, two of our patient participants from Henry Ford developed a stronger voice than I had heard from them in years, and this spirit, which may reflect a complete perspective transformation, has not left them. Participating pushed them into what some call a “survivorship mindset,” which has resulted in renewed life goals and two new powerful voices for brain tumor advocacy.

To achieve the success that we are capable of and desperately need in neuro-oncology, we must continue to unite those facing this disease with clinicians, researchers, advocate groups, industry, and government representatives toward common goals. This is exactly what Head to the Hill does.

Working together progress will be achieved!


Your voice matters.

We need your voice with us at Head to the Hill 2020. Like the story above, your experience and connection to our shared cause can have a tremendous impact. If you’re ready to join a powerful community driven to create positive change for brain tumor patients, families, and survivors, sign-up to Head to the Hill with us in May 2020.