As ASCO members, we benefit tremendously from the strength and reach of an organization that speaks and advocates on our behalf and on behalf of millions of cancer patients.
—Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD
In the fast-paced world of oncology, where the science of patient care is constantly evolving, it is critical for practitioners—and, by extension, their Society—to consistently be one step ahead. For ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundation, that means maintaining a strong focus not only on the leading edge of the oncology profession, but also on cultivating the next generation of oncology leaders.
It was with this principle in mind that ASCO launched its Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2009. This program was designed to provide formal leadership training for mid-career oncologists interested in improving their skills and serving in increasingly challenging roles within ASCO or in other organizations. Through the program, participants gain extensive exposure to the roles and mission of ASCO, its leadership, and the Society’s powerful place in developing the future of cancer care.
A key part of the LDP curriculum involves breaking the participants into small groups and providing a hands-on opportunity to grapple with a unique need or challenge within ASCO. The participants are tasked with identifying the scope of the project, developing a plan to undertake topics of interest, and making formal recommendations to the ASCO Board of Directors.
This year, the Conquer Cancer Foundation was chosen as an LDP area of interest. Over the past few months a team of four LDP participants—Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, of The Ohio State University; Sanjay Goel, MD, MS, of Montefiore/Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Michael Thompson, MD, PhD, of ProHealth Care Regional Cancer Center; and Anne Tsao, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center—and their mentor Jamie Von Roenn, MD, of the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, have worked with ASCO and Foundation staff to, among other things, develop a strategic answer to one of the Foundation’s most pointed questions: Why exactly should ASCO Members support the Conquer Cancer Foundation?
Advocacy through Information
Dr. Tsao received both a Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator Award (YIA) and Career Development Award (CDA). “These grants jump-started my academic career and enabled me to create a successful multidisciplinary program at my institution in a rare tumor type. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the Foundation’s support,” she says.
But even with this insider perspective, the group was still surprised to learn of the scope of the Foundation’s support of ASCO’s mission.
As Dr. Goel puts it, “It was only once I began the LDP in earnest that I truly appreciated the broader role that the Foundation plays within ASCO. The most surprising fact was that the Foundation supports many of the endeavors that ASCO is involved in, including the ASCO Annual Meeting and the multidisciplinary symposia, like GI and GU.”
Besides supporting ASCO’s educational program, the Foundation also fuels the Society’s international programs and its patient information resources, including the patient information website Cancer.Net, and will play a key role in building support for ASCO’s revolutionary new CancerLinQ rapid learning system. Unfortunately, one of the challenges the LDP group is facing is a lack of awareness. “I don’t think the general ASCO membership is aware of the history and scope of the Foundation or the importance of future projects to the oncology community,” say Dr. Thompson.
Leading by Giving Back
The Leadership Development Group will present a formal recommendation to the ASCO Board of Directors at its May meeting, but in the meantime each of the participants has chosen to directly support ASCO’s mission and advance cancer research and education in a much more personal way: They have all chosen to become Conquer Cancer Foundation donors.
For Dr. Goel, “The decision to support the Foundation was easy. To simply give back. I have been lucky enough to receive a fairly prestigious award from the Foundation, which changed my outlook…and moreover, provided a real morale boost to my career.”
Dr. Tsao agrees. As she puts it: “I am very committed to give back to the Foundation and make sure that others have the same opportunity that I did.”
“ASCO has been at the center of my professional career development,” says Dr. Thompson. “I am grateful and want to give back to my organization and help new oncologists develop in research and clinical care.”
Dr. Bekaii-Saab takes a slightly wider view: “As ASCO members, we benefit tremendously from the strength and reach of an organization that speaks and advocates on our behalf and on behalf of millions of cancer patients. In addition to volunteering through various committees, giving to the Foundation ensures that our organization’s mission continues to lead the way in cancer care, research and education.”
The 2013 Leadership Development Program participants invite you to join them in supporting the Conquer Cancer Foundation and the mission of ASCO. To make a gift today, visit www.conquercancerfoundation.org/donate. ■
© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.