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Man returns to school at 60 to study cancer that killed his wife

ALBERTA, Canada (CBS News) -- A 60-year-old man from Alberta, Canada, has returned to college to study the cancer that killed his wife. Powel Crosley lost his wife in 2009, when she was just 58, to a rare form of ovarian cancer, known as granulosa cell tumor. This type of cancer is so uncommon, it only accounts for about 5 percent of ovarian cancer cases.

Crosley, who was profiled in the Globe and Mail newspaper on Tuesday, is one of the oldest undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. He spent his earlier career working in information technology, and enrolled at the school in 2010, decades after his last stint in college as a student in geography. He's currently doing course work in biochemistry and oncology, and helped secure a $60,000 grant to continue his research in one of the university's oncology labs -- even though he didn't have a previous science background. Crosley is using the money to fund testing on a new cancer drug developed at the University of Illinois, which has shown potential for treating the cancer that killed his wife.

In many ways, Crosley is continuing the legacy of his wife, Sladjana, who was a chemical engineer and studied the scientific literature about her cancer for 13 years. She was diagnosed with the cancer in 1996, some time after a visit to the emergency room in which her abdominal pain was initially misdiagnosed and blamed on gas.

When his wife began treatment, she quickly learned that information about her illness was scarce, so during that time she founded the Granulosa Cell Tumor Research Foundation in order to provide patients with access to information. She continued to fight recurrences of the disease for more than a decade.

"She had tremendous drive and determination to look into things and achieve things. She was incredibly intelligent and just a very strong person," Crosley said in a July interview on the University of Alberta website.

Since his wife passed away, Crosley has run her foundation. He's participated in numerous marathons to raise money to sustain the organization.

"Her motto was: The answer lies in the lab," Crosley told the Globe and Mail. "She was pretty persistent about things she believed in. And so I'm just basically completing her mission."


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