You are using an unsupported browser. Please use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge.
The one hundred honoree: Steven Jay Isakoff, MD, PhD

Profile in Medicine

The one hundred honoree: Steven Jay Isakoff, MD, PhD

Mass General Giving

Steven Jay Isakoff, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist at Mass General Cancer Center, waged a two-year crusade on behalf of his patient Tina Yuan. The Quincy woman was battling two foes: advanced breast cancer and the federal government. She was unable to obtain a visa for her parents to visit her from China before her death.

Dr. Isakoff wrote letters on Tina’s behalf to the Department of Homeland Security and to Senator Edward Kennedy’s office. As Tina’s cancer worsened, he contacted Channel 5 newswoman Kelley Tuthill, who aired Tina’s story. Responding to public pressure, the federal government promptly granted the visa. Soon after, Tina’s parents arrived in Boston for an emotional reunion with their daughter.

“I asked Dr. Isakoff if he always gets so involved in his patients’ lives,” says Kelley Tuthill. “He told me, ‘If we don’t have treatments that can make the patient better, part of our job is to try to relieve the patient’s suffering. For Tina, that meant being with her family.’”