WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Susan G. Komen for the Cure is set to honor four champions in the fight against breast cancer at its first "Honoring The Promise" gala at the Kennedy Center. One of those being honored is renowned surgeon oncologist and educator, Dr. LaSalle Leffall Jr. of Howard University Medical School. Dr. Leffall starts everyday day bright and early and full of energy. He is up at 430am to make rounds at the hospital and see his patients.
He told us, "If you don't have your health, I don't care what you want to do, you can't enjoy it. But with good health you can and I want to help people retain and regain their health."
Howard University Hospital has been his professional home since he entered medical school at age 18 in 1948. His teachers included medical pioneers Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. Burke Syphax, and Dr. Jack White.
"Had it not been for Howard University School of medicine, there's a great possibility I would not be a physician today, a surgical oncologist today," Dr. Leffall said.
Has a doctor he broke through racial barriers to become one of America's top doctors. Dr. Laffall retired from performing surgery four years ago, but he still continues to serve on the medical school's faculty as the Charles Drew Professor of Surgery. He told us he it is his job now to inspire, to stimulate, to stretch the imagination and to expand the aspirations of his students.
Dr. Laffall has been taught nearly 5-thousand medical students and hundreds of America's black surgeons. Outside the classroom, as president of the American Cancer Society and the American College of Surgeons, he has helped to draw national attention to the disturbing disparities between blacks and whites in cancer prevalence, treatment and mortality.
"We have to do a better job and let people know that this is something that is important and that something can be done to make a difference."
Dr. Leffall is a former board chairman for the Komen Foundation and said he is deeply honored to be recognized by the foundation for his hard work in helping them conquer their mission of finding a cure.