How David Hysong And His Old Friend "Death" Are Working Together To Cure
One of the realities of life that has always baffled me is the notion that one catastrophe in a person’s existence does not negate another from occurring. Somehow, it only seems fair and right that surviving an event that 'should have killed you' would be enough to earn you a “pass” from encountering any other that could do the same. Unfortunately, this ideal is far from the truth and no one knows this better than David Hysong, Founder and CEO Of Shepherd Therapeutics.
This selfless, faith-filled, and mission-oriented 'force of nature' has refused Death’s invitation twice over the course of his very short lifespan. It tried to kill him while driving a motorcycle in Cambodia where he spent time helping to fight child slavery. And it tried again by striking him with a rare form of Cancer. He would succumb to neither and instead, use the latter incident and insight, therewith, to help others who may just find themselves in similar positions.
I, myself, watched my husband pass-away from a rare form of Cancer some fifteen years ago so I understand, first-hand, how blindingly cataclysmic a diagnosis like this can be for an individual and family. Nothing can prepare you to hear such news, followed by the words “There is no cure”. The fact that David Hysong isn’t content with remaining at the sidelines of this fight speaks volumes about this young hero beyond what his Harvard degree or his prestigious recognition by Forbes as one of their “30 Under 30” ever could. It is the reason he is such a special entrepreneur and gentleman (in every respect of the word) to get to know and why you should read his interview below. It's humbling, to say the least.
Share your personal mantra?
I want to "risk my life to save the lives of others." Those old tales of chivalry and the stories my father, a decorated veteran, shared, gave me an idealistic calling that resonated to “saving the lives of others”.
What’s your life look like, currently?
Most days, I feel like Noah from The Notebook. My life begins at 6am, when I go to work at Shepherd Therapeutics. At the end of the day, I come home to my dogs as well as an old farmhouse I am restoring. Someday, I hope to add a wife and kids to that list.
As you had Cancer at one point, yourself, what is the best and worst part of “living like you are dying” since?
The best, “I live without fear.” The most dangerous and effective man is the man who has come to terms with his own death. I am living life to its fullest manifestations. I’m not afraid of failure. The worst, “Possibly having Cancer again in my future.”
Shepherd Therapeutics is focusing on curing rare cancers. What constitutes “rare”?
Cancer is not rare even when noted as ‘rare’. A rare Cancer, however, is defined as one that impacts fewer than 200,000 people living in the United States.
Do you believe there is more money for pharmaceutical companies and medical community in not curing cancer and so that is why it has not happened yet?
Therapeutic intervention is far more lucrative. Medicine is a money-maker. That said, I don’t believe that organic will solve all Cancers. Nor do I believe that pharmaceutical companies are holding back from curing cancer to make money. If a cure for all Cancers had been found, the company who found it would, more-than-likely, be marketing the cure and making money that way.
How quickly are you driving new cures through the system as compared to your competitors?
We have four projects that we are working on that address a handful of diseases each. We just received our first data back from one of our first projects, noting an “80% survival rate”. Having launched Shepherd Therapeutics in October of 2015, I anticipate this drug to be in patients in eighteen months.
Do you think there is one cure for Cancer and until we find it, we need to rely on the combination of many limited cures?
No, there is not just one cure. There are many therapeutics required.
How does your company stay connected to the end user? How do you, personally, so that keep close to why you are doing this as opposed to just becoming another “business to run”.
I am the Founder, CEO, owner, and patient. That helps. We are the only “All” female biotech that I know of, meaning my core research team is made up of all women. Some of my team have taken 75% pay cuts to be part of this. We all volunteer our time in one-way-shape-or form. “Volunteering” is part of our corporate culture. We’ve also set up a foundation called “Rage To Live”, a name chosen to encapsulate “the opportunity to use one’s anger for good”.
Do you believe this is what everything else was leading up to? Your reason for being, perhaps?
I do. I am a faith-based person. “Hardship” helps to clarify. I have developed a great deal of resilience and compassion as a result of my own.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
“I want people to carve my name on lives, not on buildings.” I not looking to retire in Napa anytime during my life. I am in this fight for the long haul.
Certainly, what has not killed him, has made David Hysong stronger and the beneficiaries are all of us. Although, the fight to eliminate Cancer is far from over, having human beings like David Hysong join the fight, brings us one step closer to winning the war and helps me make a bit more sense out of why, he, at least, has faced Death twice. I doubt he need to be anymore clear, however. So Death...might I ask you to "Knock it, the hell, off!!!” for this young man's sake and sanity. He need no further reminders in my book. I’m certain David Hysong agrees.
Many thanks to David Hysong and Shore Fire Media for making this interview possible