Sometimes even courage and determination are not enough. Karl Trede had courage and determination in droves as he fought a 12 year battle against cancer. He recently lost that battle. But he remains an inspiration for all who knew him.
I got to know Karl for our 2016 Annual Report. Karl had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 2006. He underwent surgery to remove his vocal cords and the cancer seemed to be in remission. But then it returned, this time having spread to his lungs. His doctors said they had pretty much run out of options but would Karl consider trying something new, something no one else had tried before; stem cells.
Karl told me he didn’t hesitate.
“I said “sure”. I don’t believe I knew at the time that I was going to be the first one but I thought I’d give it a whirl. It was an experience for me. It was eye opening. I wasn’t real concerned about being the first, I figured I was going to have to go someday so I guess if I was the first person and something really went wrong then they’d definitely learn something. So, to me, that was kind of worth my time.”
Happily nothing went wrong and the team behind the therapy (Forty Seven Inc.) definitely learned something, they learned a lot about the correct dosage for patients; invaluable information in treating future patients.
Karl’s cancer was held at bay and he was able to do the one thing that brought him more pleasure than anything else; spend time with his family, his wife Vita, their four sons and their families. He doted on his grand kids and got to see them grow, and they got to know him.
Recently the cancer returned and this time there was no holding it at bay. To the end Karl remained cheerful and positive.
In our office is a huge poster of Karl with the words “Every Moment Counts” at the bottom. It’s a reminder to us why we come to work every day, why the people at Forty Seven Inc. and all the other researchers we support work so hard for years and years; to try and give people like Karl a few extra moments with his family.
At the top of the poster the word “Courage” is emblazoned across it. Karl has a huge smile on his face. Karl was certainly courageous, a stem cell pioneer willing to try something no one else ever had. He was also very modest.
Here is Karl speaking to our governing Board in December 2016
When I spoke to him in 2016, despite all he had gone through in his fight against cancer, he said he had no regrets:
“I consider myself very fortunate. I’m a lucky guy.”
Those of us who got to spend just a little time with Karl know that we were the lucky ones.
Our hearts go out to his family and friends for their loss.