Oncology care professionals answer hundreds of questions from patients and their families every day. Over the course of months and years doctors and nurses address everything from medical questions about drug regimens and side effects, to personal questions about how cancer may affect work or sexuality, to existential questions about death, dying, and survivorship.
Sometimes, a cancer diagnosis or treatment will raise a different and very specific kind of question: How can I help? How can I make a difference in the fight against cancer for myself and for other patients with cancer and their families?
Naturally, many patients turn to the cancer experts in their lives with this important question, seeking guidance about which of the many worthy organizations working to improve the lives of people with cancer they can support to make the biggest difference for someone like them in the future.
There are, of course, many possible answers to that question, but when it was posed to Denis
Hammond, MD, on a phone call last year, one particular organization came to mind: the Conquer Cancer Foundation.
A Doctor’s Advice
Dr. Hammond has practiced oncology at New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology PA, for more than 30 years and has been a member of ASCO for nearly that long and a donor and supporter of the Conquer Cancer Foundation since it was first founded by ASCO as the ASCO Foundation in 1999.
“At that time, I felt it was important to demonstrate to corporate donors that ASCO membership was enthusiastic about the work of the Foundation,” he said. “Over the subsequent years I have been increasingly impressed with the results of the Foundation’s work. I have seen young investigators who received YIAs [Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator Awards] go on to produce groundbreaking research. The Foundation has also supported the activities of community oncologists in research and quality improvement. So that work has more directly affected me in my clinical practice,” he said.
“It is unusual that a small contributor such as myself can feel directly connected to the benefits of his/her charitable giving. Happily, with the Foundation I feel that I can see the payoff of my donations in many concrete ways,” he said.
Dr. Hammond met Jackson and Susan Simpson in 1990 when Susan was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma. Mr. Simpson credits Dr. Hammond with providing excellent, lifesaving care for his wife, eventually curing her lymphoma, and providing attentive follow-up during her survival, including early diagnosis and treatment of subsequent bladder cancer, which was a side effect of her treatment. Mr. Simpson uses the word “super” to describe the level of care his wife received, specifically citing Dr. Hammond’s good advice and how he consistently “gave his full attention to everybody.”
Although Mrs. Simpson remained in remission from her lymphoma, she subsequently developed lung cancer and in 2012 passed away from that malignancy. After his wife’s passing, Mr. Simpson turned to his wife’s oncologist once again for advice, looking for, as he puts it “help with going to the right place.”
“I called him and I said ‘Denis, I’d like to make sure I’m not spreading my money around and doing very little’” he recalled.
“I suggested the Conquer Cancer Foundation,” said Dr. Hammond.
Mr. Simpson recalls that Dr. Hammond discussed some other organizations with him during that conversation as well—the Jimmy Fund, Exeter Hospital, where Mrs. Simpson was treated—but the Conquer Cancer Foundation stood out. “He thought of you immediately,” he said.
Making a Difference by Supporting Young Researchers
Since that phone call, Mr. Simpson has joined Dr. Hammond as a Conquer Cancer Foundation donor, but it wasn’t until later that Dr. Hammond would learn of the impact that their brief conversation had on the careers of several young researchers hoping to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting.
Mr. Simpson chose to specifically designate his philanthropic support in Susan’s memory to Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Merit Awards. Merit Awards recognize outstanding cancer research performed by young investigators, and provide financial support so recipients can travel and present their work at an ASCO meeting. “They’re a good way to try to help at the basic level, getting people interested and working on cancer research,” said Mr. Simpson.
For Dr. Hammond, this outcome is welcome news. “I am delighted that my introduction of Mr. Simpson to the Foundation seems to have been fruitful for both parties,” he said.
To learn more about the Conquer Cancer Foundation and to make a donation, visit www.ConquerCancerFoundation.org. ■
© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.