Hollings Headlines // May 2023

'All or nothing'

photo of a couple at night with boats behind them

Fun fact – lymphoma survivor Marcus Humphrey has an IMDB profile. Fifth-grade teacher by day, he's also appeared as an extra in Daughters of the Dust, Forrest Gump and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

But his movie career isn't why we spent a delightful morning chatting with him and his wife, Mary. Instead, they shared his difficult cancer journey – when they first met with Dr. Brian Hess, Marcus had one of the worst cases of lymphoma that Hess had seen.

They decided to pursue CAR-T-cell therapy. This treatment isn't widely available; it's highly specialized and comes with the risk of serious side effects – and it doesn't work for everyone.

"CAR-T is a very ‘all or nothing’ proposition to offer to patients with aggressive lymphoma. The patients and caregivers have so much on the line," Hess explained.

Spoiler alert – Marcus's cancer responded to the treatment. So much so that he and Mary are taking the trip of a lifetime.

Read Marcus Humphrey's story

Tobacco decisions

portrait of a woman in a windowed hall

Do flavored e-cigarettes help people who smoke cigarettes to switch to this less-harmful option? Would banning menthol make it easier for people who smoke menthol cigarettes to quit altogether?

“We know that people who smoke menthol cigarettes have a harder time quitting, but that’s a long way from saying that removing menthol would make it easier to quit, which we don’t really know,” says Dr. Tracy Smith.

She'll be investigating both questions under two grants from the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. The center needs answers to these questions to help it to craft regulations in the interest of public health.

Read about Dr. Smith's research

Future researchers

a group of young people stand around an older man holding a stethoscope and explaining
composite image of woman looking into microscope and man listening to mannikin's heartbeat

“We know there will be cures for cancer, and some of them will come from this group."

(No pressure there!)

Those were the words of Dr. Marvella Ford to a group of undergraduates from South Carolina State University who were enrolled in a course on cancer research. Hollings trainees traveled to Orangeburg to teach the classes, and last month the SCSU students came to Charleston to tour Hollings labs.

Some of those students will return to MUSC next month to spend their summers in Hollings research labs.

They'll be joined by students from four local high schools – Burke, St. John's, Charleston Charter School of Math and Science and North Charleston – who are enrolled in a two-year introduction to biomedical research.

We're particularly thankful to work with Dr. Michael Goler – retired Navy physician turned high school biology teacher – to show the high school students how amazing a biomedical career can be!

Sneaky centrosomes

 a woman at a podium

Centrosomes have a very orderly job during cell division. They're supposed to create the infrastructure that ensures that both daughter cells are identical to the original cell – and there are supposed to be only two of them.

More than two centrosomes, and you're virtually assured of cell death – except for cancer cells, which manage to sneak through cell division with more centrosomes than should be possible.


An MUSC Hollings Cancer Center research team has identified a protein that team members believe allows cancer cells to get away with successful cell division despite their extra centrosomes.

Read more about this research

Dragon Boat Charleston

collage of photos from dragon boat event boat on water people jumping for joy at tent closeup of tee shirt

What a great day at Dragon Boat Charleston on May 6! We rowed, we screened 66 people for head and neck cancer (and referred three of those folks for follow-up in clinic), we enjoyed the beautiful Charleston weather and scenery.

More photos

30th anniversary

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30 years!

Back in 1993, the Hollings Oncology Center opened with a vision to reduce cancer deaths and to address the cancers that most affected the people of South Carolina. Today, as a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, one of only 72 in the nation, we are more committed than ever to this mission.

Click on the link below for more about our history, and be sure to check in throughout the year as we add more memories.

30th Anniversary Page

Hollings in the news

WCSC: MUSC researching effects of e-cigarettes on cigarette smokers

Post and Courier: New SC walk aims to boost research, awareness for cancer with dismal survival rates

Lowcountry Panorama: South Carolina's African-American doctors, dentists and pharmacists held annual conference in Charleston

WCIV: Researchers at MUSC receive grant to help FDA study menthol and e-cigarettes

Coming up...

May 16 - Online Breast Cancer Support Group

Join us online for a monthly support group moderated by MUSC Hollings Cancer Center providers with expertise in the psychological experience of people with breast cancer. You can participate however you feel most comfortable: video on, video off, or call in. All options are available.

The group meets on Zoom the third Tuesday of every month from noon to 1 p.m. Register to receive a link

May 16 - Mobile Mammography & Cervical Cancer Screening

The Mobile Health Unit will be performing mammography and cervical cancer screenings outside the Walmart Supercenter in Summerville, 1317 N. Main St.

The new unit features 3D tomosynthesis mammography equipment that provides the latest in imaging technology. Appointments are required for patients of the Mobile Health Unit. To schedule appointments, please call 843-792-0878 or email hccoutreachservices@musc.edu.

Additional upcoming dates for the Mobile Health Unit:

June 13, Walmart Goose Creek, 605 St. James Ave.

June 29, Walmart Moncks Corner, 511 North Highway 52

August 29, McClellanville, 711 Pinckney Street

September 14, Vance Senior Center, 10304 Old Hwy 6

May 17 - LOWVELO Lunch and Learn

Weight loss and management impacts 45 million Americans every year. It is also one of the most confusing areas of nutrition and health due to all of the misinformation available. Learn about the current trends in weight loss/management and the best approaches for short and long term success.

Noon to 1 p.m. at the MUSC Wellness Center, Auditorium 204. Email McHughL@musc.edu to reserve your spot.

May 17 - One-in-Three: Linda Floyd Forum on Women's Cancers

One in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. With that in mind, we encourage you to bring two friends to tea at Founders Hall at Charlestowne Landing to learn about the latest in cancer research, prevention and treatment from MUSC Hollings Cancer Center experts.

This complimentary event brings women together for a fun afternoon to share, learn and engage with each other. A limited number of seats are available. RSVP through this link, by contacting 843-792-4143, or by emailing hccevents@musc.edu.

May 18 - Head and Neck Cancer Survivors Support Group

Meet with other head and neck cancer patients and caregivers in a supportive environment. This group meets in a hybrid format; you may join online or in person. 

The Head and Neck Cancer Support Group meets 5:30–6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. To attend online, register on Zoom. To attend in person in room 121 of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, RSVP to whitfis@musc.edu. 

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