Category Archives: Sam Robb Fund

Caitlin Dopheide: Sacrifing her 13th Birthday

Unknown-1Caitlin Dopheide decided when she was 10 years old that she wanted to do a Charity Birthday party for her 13th party. CURE has a named fund in honor of Sam Robb and his family. Last year Sam Robb’s dad was Caitlin’s basketball coach, and she also goes to school with Sam Robb’s sister. When she heard the story of Sam and his life, she knew she wanted to raise money to support the Sam Robb Fund.

Caitlin’s birthday was on May 13th, and she had her party on May 16th. So instead of asking for gifts for herself, Caitlin asked that her friends and family donate to the Sam Robb Fund. Caitlin raised $1820.00. What an inspired young lady.Unknown

For information on how you can donate to the Sam Robb Fund or one of our other Named Funds check out the Named Funds page of our website.


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CURE Childhood Cancer’s Named Fund Spotlight: The Sam Robb Fund

The Sam Robb Fund

This post is part of an on-going series that features our Named Funds for CURE Childhood Cancer. To learn more about our Named Funds, or to start one of your own, please click here.

About Sam

On June 25, 2007, Sam Robb succumbed to cancer that had returned with a vengeance. Although he is gone from this earth, his spirit and vitality live on in all whom he touched over his very full but very short 20 years.

Whether we live for a short time or live to 100 years, we all aspire to make a difference in some way, and Sam did exactly that. We are honored to share some of the highlights from a life courageously lived and full of accomplishment, enthusiasm and commitment.

Like many boys, Sam was focused on sports – primarily basketball and football. At 6’5″ and 230 lbs. in the 10th grade, Sam was a “Can’t Miss” college prospect starting in the first varsity football game at Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, GA. As a sophomore, he led the team there to the first varsity victory in school history.

This is where the story begins…

In the fall of 2002, a nagging stress fracture in Sam’s left knee had to be addressed. X-rays were taken and the unthinkable became a reality…the diagnosis of bone cancer.

The medical term is osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer that presents itself in young people during growth spurts. The bad cell says, “I’m taking over,” and within three days, the protocol was set:

  • Three months of chemo pre-surgery;
  • Limb salvage surgery (versus amputation), which is essentially a knee replacement in a 16 year-old boy
  • More chemo to eradicate the cancer.

Unfortunately, Sam’s response to chemo was poor, with a 50% necrosis (tumor kill) putting him into a high-risk group. His odds for survival dropped from the 75% survival after five years class, to considerably less.

Most normal people would be despondent, angry…Not Sam! After hearing the news that his promising football career was over, he embarked on a new challenge as a baseball pitcher. Although it did not come easy, particularly with a prosthetic knee, he managed to play for a highly competitive East Cobb team, pitching and winning the final game of a world series in Tampa. Although he never would achieve elite athletic status, he loved being part of a team.

After high school graduation, he went on to Young Harris College, where he was a member of the baseball team. He was enrolled at Clemson University for fall 2007, but unfortunately, this would never come to fruition.

Osteosarcoma, when it reoccurs, tends to present in the lungs. In the spring of 2007, Sam began to experience fatigue and discomfort in his lungs. Eventually, he felt compelled to get things checked out. After four and a half years, Sam and his family felt that he had beaten the cancer demon. His previous scans were in the fall of 2006, with no signs of cancer present. In June 2007, a grapefruit sized mass was discovered to have grown and taken over his lungs and chest cavity.

Sam was dying from cancer. A number of nationally renowned doctors felt the surgery to remove the tumor was life-threatening. Eventually, a brave surgeon agreed with Sam to go for the “long ball” and remove the tumor…and a lung.

The weekend before surgery, Sam planned what would prove to be a real fare well tour. He visited UGA, attended Braves’ games and held court in the family’s basement.

He knew the severity of the surgery and he knew his time was limited. Sam never made it off the operating table. The tumor was too difficult to extricate.

In many ways, the outcome was blessed.

Sam never wanted sympathy, nor did he ever act like a sick person. He was good at everything except one thing – being sick.

He is gone but will never be forgotten. In many ways, he was bigger than life. His mantra, “Fightin Till the Last Breath,” lives on in all who knew him.

Purpose of The Sam Robb Fund

Proceeds from the Sam Robb Fund will be used for two primary purposes. First, the fund will support the Sam Robb Fellow at the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Services of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine. We believe it is critically important to help train the pediatric oncologists of tomorrow, so that they are fully prepared for a lifetime of excellence in patient care, teaching and research – just like the doctors who cared for Sam. We know that one of these young doctors may make significant contributions to finding cures for childhood cancers, and we know that Sam would be proud to support their training. We are also proud to be able to help Emory and the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorder’s Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta attract some of the nation’s best and brightest young doctors. These doctors care for children with cancer with unmatched skill and dedication, and the importance of providing them with the very best training and preparation for this vital and difficult work cannot be overstated.

Secondly, proceeds from the Sam Robb Fund will be used to help defray the costs of prosthetic devices for children with a cancer diagnosis who cannot afford to purchase and/or maintain them. Sam was determined to live life to the fullest and never let cancer rob him of the joys of life. Sam would want to encourage other children to follow his example, and through the Sam Robb Prosthetic Scholarship Fund, he will do that. The hope is that with the proper prosthetic devices, Sam will inspire childhood cancer survivors to return to a lifestyle that brings them happiness.

Introducing the 1st Sam Robb Fellow – Dr. Tanya Watt

Saturday evening June 21, 2008 we introduced Dr. Tanya Watt as the first Sam Robb Fellow to our family and friends. Many of you joined us for an evening of Remembrance and Resolve.

After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in biochemistry, Dr. Tanya Watt attended medical school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She entered the pediatric residency program at Emory University, during which time she helped adapt the American Medical Association palliative care program to pediatrics. During her fellowship, Dr. Watt hopes to attain a Masters in Science of Clinical Research, thus giving her the tools and knowledge to successfully participate in clinical research, in addition to furthering her clinical abilities. She hopes to develop new chemotherapeutic regimens, in addition to promoting successful palliative care when medicine has reached its limits.

Click here to read the latest mid-year Research Update from Dr. Watt.

To Donate to The Sam Robb Fund

Click Here and type “Sam Robb Fund” in the Comments section. Your gift will be directed accordingly.

Special Events to Benefit The Sam Robb Fund

June 6, 2009 – An Evening to Celebrate with Dr. Tanya Watt, the Sam Robb Research Fellow.  For more information on the event, please contact Annamarie Robb at

October 11, 2009 – The Sam Robb Memorial Golf Tournament on Legacy at Lake Lanier Islands.  For more information on the event, please contact Annamarie Robb at

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Checking in with CURE Fellows: Reflections And Goals

Two years ago, we introduced you to Dr. Tanya Watt and Dr. Wes Miller, two young doctors and extraordinary humanitarians who were entering the fellowship training program at the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. CURE Childhood Cancer fully funded this specialty training then, and has continued to do so over this entire two year period. CURE first-sam-robb-fellowaccomplished this goal thanks in part to the contribution of the Sam Robb Fund, a memorial fund set up under CURE in memory of young Sam Robb who fought a heroic battle with osteosarcoma. With Dr. Watt and Dr. Miller in the midst of the third and final year of their fellowships, we spoke with them to get some insight into their experiences:

Looking back, Dr. Watt reflects on how the foundation of clinical research has led her to focus on preventive treatments for children who conquer the disease, but battle the long-term effects of radiation therapy.

“I chose to pursue the Masters of Science in Clinical Research, which teaches physicians how to advance treatments in public health much like receiving a Masters in Public Health at a college or university,” explains Dr. Watt. “The first year was entirely clinical, which involved the basic nuts and bolts from diagnosis to the treatment of children with cancer. It’s the third and final year of being a fellow when it gets really interesting,” she adds.

The third year is also when a thesis must be written and submitted, and the real focus of a physician’s future comes into play. Dr. Watt’s chosen focus is pediatric hematology/oncology, and both Dr. Watt and Dr. Miller are setting their sights on becoming board-certified pediatric oncologists. Yet each will diverge into different directions upon completion of their fellowship training.

“I’m going to stay on at the AFLAC Cancer Center as a clinical instructor where a good deal of my time will be devoted to researching ways to prevent skin cancer, which is the long-term effect of radiation, in children who have undergone aggressive radiation therapy,” Dr. Watt says. She also wants to help facilitate a closer working relationship between lab researchers and physicians.

“It is essential to sustain an open dialogue between lab researchers and physicians. Having the opportunity to be on both sides of that coin will help me facilitate more open lines of communication so information can flow in both directions in order to advance individualized treatments in the future.”

According to Dr. Miller, about ten years ago fellowships were probably 2/3 basic science research and 1/3 clinical care. Today, however, doctors generally spend about 2/3 of their time pursuing a scholarly activity, basic lab research being an example of such an activity, and 1/3 or their time in direct patient care.  However, hematology/oncology doctors who are beyond their fellowship training may choose one of many combinations with respect to how they devote their time.  Most do not spend any time in the basic science lab. While he knows his ultimate satisfaction will come from devoting most of his time directly to patient care, his two years in the lab have enabled him to establish a potentially groundbreaking study into a disease process called graft-versus-host disease which is a morbid and sometimes fatal complication of bone marrow transplantation so that we can better understand it and hopefully prevent it’s occurrence!

Like Dr. Watt, his first two years as a CURE-funded fellow have helped point him in a direction of patient care which truly excites him.

“One of the great things about CURE’s generosity in funding the fellowship program here at the AFLAC Cancer Center is that it really is making a difference,” Dr. Miller says. “I couldn’t have dreamed of working in such a revolutionary area of medicine without CURE’s financial support. I truly feel I am a better doctor for this experience, and CURE Childhood Cancer made it entirely possible.”

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The First Sam Robb Fellow – Dr. Tanya Watt

Thanks to your support over the past year with the loss of Sam, we have established a Named Fund with CURE Childhood Cancer.  The purpose of the Sam Robb Fund is to support one of two Pediatric Research Fellows at the EMORY/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Saturday evening, June 21st,  we introduced Dr. Tanya Watt as the first Sam Robb Fellow to our family and friends.  Many of you joined us for an evening of Remembrance and Resolve.

We truly appreciate you support and will continue to need your help to support our battle through research to find better treatments to battle childhood cancer.
Please Save the Date for scheduled events
·         The Quiet Heroes Luncheon – Saturday, September 20th
·         The Sam Robb Memorial Golf Tournament – Sunday, October 12th
·         The Sam Robb Holiday Classic  Basketball Tournament – December 27-28-29
Information on the above events and The Sam Robb Fund are under the Name Funds portion of CURE Childhood Cancer website: All contributions to CURE Childhood Cancer please note: The Sam Robb Fund are tax deductible.
We remembered how much we missed Sam and cannot believe one year has passed.  We are comforted by all the friends that are supporting our family in many ways.
We continue Fightin Till the Last Breath. Thank you

Annamarie, Sam, Elizabeth ,Caroline and Katherine Robb

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Filed under Funding, Named Funds, Research, Sam Robb Fund