Cancer Researcher Kicks Off President’s Lecture Series

A picture of a smiling child holding a fish filled the screen and started off Steve Withrow’s dedications at his lecture in the University of the Arts Theatre Tuesday night. Withrow began by explaining the picture to the audience — first with reactions of joy and then with sadness.

“I was privileged to be there at cancer camp (Sky High Hope Camp) when he caught his first fish,” Withrow said. “He died of brain cancer ten days ago.”


With this, Withrow kicked off the first President’s Community Lecture with his presentation, “Stories from a Career in Oncology: One Medicine. One Cancer. One Cure.” Withrow is the founder and associate director of the Flint Animal Cancer Center at CSU.

The atmosphere was much more laid back than expected — Withrow balanced stories about failed cancer treatments with comical jokes about his life in medicine. Before starting his presentation, Withrow set the mood by making some friendly jokes toward CSU President Tony Frank by showing a picture of Frank from 1985. He showed Frank over the years and said that this proves evolution is true.

“I was kind of worried that it would be a little over my head because I thought it was going to be a lot of technical stuff,” sophomore business major Vincent DiTirro said of Withrow’s lecture. “But, he really made it down to a level where everybody could connect and understand him.”

The seats were packed to full capacity with occupants ranging from pre-teen children all the way to senior citizens and the laughter was shared by all.

Withrow’s love for animals and dedication to the cure for cancers in all species could be heard in every sentence. Not only does Withrow do what he does to satisfy his interest in oncology — the study of cancer and tumors — but also for his passion to save lives.

“Beating cancer is a marathon, not a sprint,” Withrow said. “You’re slogging through the mud, you’re not running on dry ground — we always care, sometimes we cure.”

Much like the laughter, everyone shared a lump in their throat while Withrow explained the deaths of both children and animals.

“He correlated the clinical trials of animals to the clinical trials of humans,” said Jeff Kato, a member of the Fort Collins community. “He used real cases versus the induced cases; he told what really happens in nature.”

Withrow was the first lecture in CSU’s The President’s Lecture Series which will be held four times throughout the year in various lecture halls and classrooms around CSU. The lecture series honors the 150th birthday of Fort Collins.

The lectures intend to showcase the amazing work and programs offered by CSU faculty in various lecture halls and classrooms around CSU.


“It was a way of us saying ‘Happy Birthday’ to the city of Fort Collins,” Frank said. “Actually, the idea came from my trip to Washington D.C… I thought to myself, ‘Some of our faculty members really travel the whole world and people pay to see and hear them — why don’t we give the community a chance to hear them close to home?”

Collegian reporter Rick Cookson can be reached at