In Their Own Words: Harry Rhoads Jr.

The V Foundation is successful thanks to the contributions of many: donors, corporate partners, our incredible Board and Scientific Advisory Committee and the amazing researchers who are awarded grants. With “In Their Own Words,” we sit down with key members of the V Foundation. In this edition, our team chats with Harry Rhoads, Jr., the CEO of the Washington Speakers Bureau and a founding V Foundation board member.


The V Foundation: What is your personal connection to cancer?

Harry Rhoads, Jr.: My first connection with cancer was when I was diagnosed with melanoma in 1988. Thankfully, the skilled surgical team at Georgetown University Medical Center successfully removed the tumor and I remained cancer-free until 2006. It was at that time I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, as my doctors found 30 tumors inside my liver. At that point, I went to the (now) Duke Cancer Institute where they successfully treated me over an eight-month period, which resulted in the shrinkage of all my tumors. About 18 months later, my doctor found a tumor on my small intestine, which he successfully removed. Three months later, he found a tumor in a lymph node and successfully removed that. Happily, I have been cancer free for the last eight years.

TVF: You were a founding member of the V Foundation’s Board of Directors. What made you decide to join?

HR: I was invited to join the V Foundation by Jim Valvano, as he had been one of my earliest clients at the Washington Speakers Bureau and we were great friends. He knew of my first bout with cancer and felt that I could be helpful by providing a view of a cancer survivor.

TVF: Why do you believe in the V Foundation’s mission?

HR: The mission of the V Foundation is all about helping others, which has always appealed to me. To whom much is given … much is expected. I think all of our V Foundation members are generous, thoughtful and have a bias to help others in any way that they can. This is why I’ve stayed on the board all of these years, as I believe in those who serve with me.

TVF: Why are donations to cancer research critical?

HR: To fight against cancer, you need many things—including a funding mechanism to do so. Without donations, there will be no progress, and with no progress, there will be no hope for those in the future who develop cancer.

TVF: What does a victory over cancer look like to you?

HR: To me, victory over cancer first begins with doctors and researchers working closely together as opposed to in a silo. Until we can figure out a way to share existing/ongoing research between all doctors and researchers, the time it will take to defeat cancer will take longer than ever. I can’t even fantasize what victory over cancer would look like until we are all on the same page, sharing data and resources to find a cure.