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Ann Curry explains how new show ‘Chasing the Cure’ has already changed lives

August 13, 2019
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve greatly admired Ann Curry’s work in broadcasting and journalism. Whether she was reporting from the center of a war-torn nation or posing a difficult question to a president, she has always epitomized journalistic integrity.

After leaving NBC’s Today Show in 2012, Curry produced content for NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC before parting ways with the network in 2015. She later developed a production company responsible for her six-part PBS series “We’ll Meet Again,” a show focused on lives changed for the better.

That theme is amplified in her new weekly series “Chasing the Cure,” airing live each Thursday at 9 p.m. on TBS and TNT.

The show brings together patients suffering from an undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or uncured illness with thousands of doctors from around the nation and millions of viewers – some of whom may be able to offer solutions.

In the following interview, Curry explains how the show works while also revealing her initial concerns surround the concept of “Chasing the Cure.”

The Maine Edge: There’s never been a show like this. How does “Chasing the Cure” work?

Curry: It’s such a cool thing to be able to do something that may actually help people. We’re working with the best minds in medicine. We bring patients and doctors together in the studio. Some of these patients have been struggling for years and they’ll be able to talk to a panel of these top doctors. In this studio, we also have a room full of computers and people manning them. They’re on the phone and they are culling live data as it comes in from a variety of sources.

I’ve met these patients, and when they find out that someone has called or emailed information about their individual case, their face just lights up. They know they’re not alone. There is something quite beautiful about that, Mike.

The Maine Edge: Could you give us an example of someone that has received help through this show?

Curry: We’ve had many already. One of them involves a woman who was a first-grade teacher for more than 20 years. She stood up at one point in class, lost her balance and has never regained it. She slowly lost her ability to walk and she’s now slowly losing her ability to speak. She’s seen a bunch of doctors and nobody could figure it out.

This family has spent so much money on medical care, they’ve lost their home. They’re now living in an apartment and they may lose that. They reached out to us and we discovered that there are lots of tests she should have received. One of the tests was denied by her insurance, so we found someone to help get her that test.

We had somebody in the crowd that was working on a project that allows people to essentially be heard by typing out the words that she’s trying to say. They offered to set her up with this at no charge and she couldn’t believe it. Illness isolates us. Being connected gives us a chance to have our lives improved. It already started working even before we launched the show.

The Maine Edge: How receptive has the medical community at large been toward “Chasing the Cure?”

Curry: Their initial response has been much like mine was. At first, I wondered ‘How do we do this responsibly?’ Because we’re using television, how do we make sure these patients are not exploited? That was my first concern. That’s also how most of the doctors responded at first.

We’ve essentially proven ourselves to a lot of doctors. We’re now connected to major medical centers all across the country. We’re connected to 52,000 physicians. Clearly we’re starting to become embraced. We had to go find the doctors who we wanted to put on the broadcast. We selected them carefully and then set out to convince them that this would be a good thing to do. We’ve gone from responses like ‘Is this for real?’ to ‘We know the medical system is broken. We want to do a better job of working directly with patients.’ What I’m hearing from doctors now is that maybe this will help.

Through this process I’ve realized how heroic doctors are. They struggle to figure out what’s wrong with us. Who else stands up against our suffering? And who stands against death for us? These medical professionals have to deal with this cumbersome broken system that sometimes prevents them from being able to give the patients what they really need. I’ve come to develop a deeper appreciation for the medical community – especially now.

The Maine Edge: It must be incredibly rewarding to wake up and know that your job that day is to try to improve the lives of other people.

Curry: As you know when you’re trying to create something new, and navigate with the ups and downs of broadcasting, it’s hard to tie all the bows so you have all that stress. Despite all that, I’m smiling. I’m full of hope and so are the doctors we’re working with. They are excited about the possibilities surrounding this show. People watching will have a chance to do good - even something as simple as posting an online cheer for a patient makes a difference. We live in a time when people are struggling to understand how compassionate we really are. I know we are the nation we’ve always believed we are and this show will help bring out the best in us.

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