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Vital Signs

Medical student takes a detour, on two wheels

DMS student (and cancer patient) Ben Grass, right, completed 100 miles in this year's Prouty, with some college friends.

A year ago, Benjamin Grass was "excited" but "a bit nervous" about entering DMS. But soon he'd settled into studying anatomy and biochemistry.

Tumor: Until January 27, that is, when he was diagnosed at DHMC with testicular cancer. He had surgery the next day to remove the tumor, followed a month later by another operation to see if the cancer had spread; happily, it hadn't. Grass's treatment and recuperation went well, though he had to set aside his medical studies.

Now, however, after several fortuitous encounters, he's ready to hit the books again. The first fortuity came the day of his diagnosis. The resident who cared for him in the ER was Dr. E. Paul DeKoning, a DMS '04 who was diagnosed with lymphoma during his first year at DMS; Grass has good things to say about all his caregivers, but DeKoning's support was especially reassuring on that difficult day.

The second fortuity came when Grass crossed paths with Dr. Susanne Tanski, a pediatrician and researcher at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center; upon learning about Grass's situation, she hired him to work, until he was able to return to school, on two anti-smoking projects she oversees.

Bike: The third fortuity relates to his longtime love of biking. Grass was a four-year member of the cycling team in college, at Williams, so when he realized that he had just enough time to get back in shape for the 2009 Prouty Century Bike Ride on July 11, he signed up; the Prouty raises over $2 million a year for Norris Cotton—a cause that Grass is more than happy to support.

He had just enough time to get back in shape for the 2009 Prouty.

He completed the Prouty's 100-mile course feeling strong. And excited to get back to med school in a few months.

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Dartmouth Medical SchoolDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College