Q & A with Dr. Robert Fallon

March 27, 2013
Topics: Pediatric Research, Cancer (oncology)

I'll never forget where I was standing or how it felt when Dr. Robert Fallon delivered the news to me that my son had acute lympoblastic leukemia. It was an awful moment. However, the next words out of Dr. Fallon's mouth were this, "The good news is, I've fought this hundreds of times and I know exactly what to do."

Dr. Fallon's confidence and expertise was vital to our family as he and his Riley team directed our son's cancer treatment for the following three years.

Today our son is a healthy, happy, and cancer-free 2nd grader. He's thriving and is the tallest kid in his class. We are forever grateful for Dr. Fallon and Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health for the wonderful care we received.

Dr. Fallon has spent the past 12 years serving as section director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Riley Hospital. He is also a Zachary Klingler Professor of Pediatrics for Indiana University School of Medicine. I asked him a few questions about his work at Riley Hospital. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What do you feel is the hardest part about your job?

A: It is a helpless feeling to have a patient who does not respond to treatment. We are fortunate that this is less common now than when I started practicing.

Q: What do you feel is the best part about your job?

A: Obviously, the flip side of the above situation is what drives us. There is nothing better than seeing a former patient make it to a graduation or a prom, thanks, in part, to something you did.

Q: You are the head of the Children's Oncology Group? What does that mean and what does the Children's Oncology Group do to help kids at Riley?

A: Since I've been at Riley I have been the "Principal Investigator", or PI. The PI is legally responsible for the conduct of all of the research trials at Riley. It's a big and important job, and luckily I have an amazing group of people here, from research associates, to supervisors, to research nurses, who are dedicated to this effort. This helps the patients who come to us at Riley, because they know that they have access to the latest research medications and protocols here.

Q: Are you involved in any type of research within your field of medicine?

A: I'm involved in Phase III trials in many types of cancer, with a particular interest in Lymphomas, Hodgkins Disease, and diseases that affect adolescents and young adults.

Q: Do you think it's important to help raise awareness about Riley Hospital for Children in the state of Indiana?

A: Everyone should know there is a tremendous resource in Indiana available to them - called Riley. No family should ever feel that they need to travel out of the state or region to obtain the best care for their child.

85 percent of children diagnosed with cancer in Indiana turn to Riley Hospital for Children for their treatment. To make a donation to support Riley's cancer center or pediatric cancer research, click here.

Christy Cabe

Christy enjoys telling a good story in hopes that the reader will “walk away encouraged and inspired to grow in their love for God, and for others.” She has a degree in educational ministries from Huntington University, drinks coffee every morning, and lives in Fort Wayne with her husband, Kraig, and their three children. Christy recently published a memoir, “Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels.”

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