Courtesy of hackensackmeridianhealth.org
During his 35 years in the National Football League (NFL)—as a scout, personnel director and general manager—Dave Gettleman has made it to the "Big Game" seven times and took home wins from three of them. His most important victory of all, however, didn't happen on a football field. It happened at John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center.
"When I came back in late December 2017, I was putting in very long days, seven days a week," recalls Dave, who had just become general manager of the New York Giants, having previously worked for the team from 1998 until 2012. "Towards the spring, I started to realize I was really tired. I blamed it on the hours. But then I noticed I was getting winded going up the stairs. I weighed myself, and in 10 days, I had lost 7 pounds. I said to myself, 'Something's wrong.'"
Dave consulted his team's athletic trainer, who decided to take him to Hackensack. Doctors ordered a CT scan, in which they saw several large abdominal masses. "The CT findings were right away suggestive of lymphoma," says Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., physician-in-chief at Hackensack Meridian Health Oncology Care and chairman and chief physician officer at JTCC. "Lymphoma is a diverse disease—with more than 140 different types of lymphoma—and the biopsy revealed that Dave had a high-grade Non-Hodgkin lymphoma with very aggressive features."
In June 2018, Dave completed the first of six cycles back-to-back of intensive chemotherapy. By October, he was in complete remission. "He's now three years out, and is very likely cured," says Dr. Goy, who credits Dave's recovery in large part to the commitment he made to his own treatment. "Dave is, by definition, a team player. It is not easy overnight to change everything and go through all side effects and disruption from such therapies, but Dave was 100% on board in a very disciplined way. It was a different type of game, but he did exactly what he needed to do."
Dave is so grateful for the care he received at JTCC that after the completion of his treatment, he decided to become one of its donors. Since 2019, he has donated more than $50,000 to Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation in support of lymphoma research.
"It's important to my wife and me that we be good stewards of our money, and that we focus our philanthropy on causes that we feel a personal connection to," says Dave, who also volunteers his time as a member of the cancer center's board of trustees. "I feel that connection to [Dr. Goy] and the Cancer Center. There is a constant evolution in the treatment that they provide. They're not sitting back. They're investing time and money into research. Whenever I walk in there, I feel hope."