Many of those who work in oncology or deal with cancer patients know of Prof. Umberto Veronesi and none of them could deny the importance of his battle against cancer.
He devoted his life to improving cancer treatment and quality of life for patients. He was a physician, and a politician, but above all he was a researcher. He embodied the true spirit of research, i.e., to believe in something and investigate every aspect of it until all the questions about it have been satisfactorily answered. He never gave up when faced with challenges, and he never stopped being curious. He believed in science, because he wanted to believe in the future. He mixed scientific knowledge with human warmth and was the pioneer of many breast cancer innovations.
From the beginning of Prof. Veronesi’s career, his mission was clear: ‘My first decision was to focus on the fight against cancer. When I started at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, I felt a profound sense of rebellion against the surrender of doctors and patients to a disease that caused intense suffering. In particular, I could not stand the havoc of a woman’s body after a mastectomy: in order to remove just a small breast cancer, not only the breast was taken away from the body, but also the axillary lymph nodes and the chest muscles. Consequently, I decided to fight mainly against breast cancer. It was a tough war: the dogma of mastectomy was so deeply-rooted that everybody thought I was crazy when I suggested conservative breast surgery.’