DERRICK HALL: AMBASSADOR

Helping Strike Out Pancreatic Cancer

Written By Debra Gelbart
December 2018
Edited November 2019

Arizona Diamondbacks President & CEO Derrick Hall has a lot of responsibilities, but he has found time to passionately urge people diagnosed with cancer and those whose loved ones have had cancer to undergo genetic testing.

Hall, who has been with the Diamondbacks organization since 2005, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011, a couple of years after his father, Larry Hall, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After Derrick was diagnosed, Roger Magowitz, founder of the Seena Magowitz Foundation, recommended that Derrick go through genetic testing to get ahead of any indicators that he could be susceptible to another cancer.

“We need to be aware and concerned if we have that hereditary background,” Derrick added. “They thought they would find (cancer-related) genes with me because of my background, with my father and his father. But, as it turns out, we’re okay, which gives me some peace of mind. But it’s important to be as proactive as possible, to make sure you can check off getting tested.”

Derrick’s wife Amy was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in the spring of 2016. She continues to do well after aggressive treatment, Derrick said.

A Personal Connection

Derrick and Amy have been supporters of the Seena Magowitz Foundation for more than a decade. He arrived in Phoenix in 2005 after spending 14 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization. “The Seena Magowitz Foundation and TGen (the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix) are very personal to me,” Derrick said, “because Dr. Daniel Von Hoff was my father’s doctor. When my father was diagnosed in 2010, he was Stage 4.”

Before Larry Hall connected with Dr. Von Hoff, the world’s leading pancreatic cancer researcher and clinician, Larry underwent a Whipple procedure and was told he had less than three months to live, Derrick said. “I then went to Dr. Jeff Trent (the founder of TGen) and Dr. Von Hoff and they said, ‘Bring him to us.’ They told us it would be a challenge, but they were going to try to prolong his life. And they did. He lived for three years, well beyond the three months that was originally expected.

Dr. Von Hoff placed Larry Hall on a few clinical trials, including one—a regimen of three chemotherapy drugs—that Dr. Von Hoff named “the triple,” Derrick said, in honor of Larry Hall’s love of baseball. “We grew very close with TGen and with Dr. Von Hoff and then Roger and I became close friends. He’s a supporter of so many causes, including the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation.”

The Diamondbacks Foundation focuses on cancer, education and homelessness, among other issues, Derrick said.

“Roger’s been great. He’s a hero, a champion, as humble an individual as I’ve ever met. He doesn’t want the attention, doesn’t need the attention. The money he’s been able to raise, the awareness he’s been able to raise, is so very important to fighting pancreatic cancer. But the advancements made because of generous individuals like Roger are unbelievable. And I look now at where we are versus 10 years ago, and there’s hope.”

Derrick said he and the Diamondbacks organization will always support the Seena Magowitz Foundation and TGen. “We all know someone who’s been impacted by cancer; everybody knows someone affected. I lost a friend, Senator John McCain, to cancer. Some diagnoses are worse than others. Pancreatic cancer is one of those, but it’s because of people like Dr. Von Hoff and Roger Magowitz that medical advancement is progressing at a more rapid pace.”

Derrick Was The Master of Ceremony At The 2018 Seena Magawitz Foundation Golf Classic

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