As a medical student, I was drawn to GO's mission of improving access to cancer care in all types of resource settings and the opportunity to work creatively in multidisciplinary teams to develop novel solutions to care delivery. I also felt that the culture of GO was inspiring–the founders of GO (Ami and Franklin) were dynamic, nurturing mentors who created a can-do culture that inspired creative ideas and fast translation of these ideas. GO was and is truly a grassroots, volunteer driven network of committed individuals who are inspiring to work with and learn from. I have tremendously enjoyed being able to participate in and witness the innumerable efforts of GO volunteers that have served to help make a difference in understanding and addressing global cancer care disparities.
What is your role as a GO volunteer?
I began volunteering with GO as a medical student. I helped to found the first student chapter of GO at Harvard Medical School called "Students for GO". This group promoted awareness and advocacy around global cancer care through a series of interactive case seminars, blogs, and interviews with leaders in the field. In 2014 in Boston, Students for GO organized the first student-led symposium on global cancer care – the Global Cancer Care Symposium: Challenges and Opportunities – attended by professionals and participants from around the world.
This group has now evolved into the Global Oncology Young Professional Alliance. We engage with young professionals in a variety of fields to support the efforts of GO and promote mentorship of young professionals venturing into global oncology. One of our most recent events was one of the first ever global cancer oriented hackathons, co-organized with CAMTECH at MGH and MIT Hacking Medicine. The Global Cancer Care Hack-a-thon, held in Boston in February 2016, included approximately 150 participants from around the world, and resulted in the presentation of innovative tech-based solutions to cancer diagnosis, epidemiology and care delivery.
My role as a GO volunteer has evolved over the years but all the while has allowed me to continuously learn, be challenged and have opportunities to lead, mentor and engage with fellow volunteers toward a shared purpose of improving equity in cancer care around the globe.
When you’re working on a GO project, what most energizes you and why?
I am energized by the work that GO does because I want to have the opportunity to impact and improve global cancer care delivery. My experience in this arena is informed from work in under-resourced settings, where delays in diagnosis, or lack of essential services (pathology, radiology, surgery) or access to essential medicines directly impact an individual's quality of life and quantity of life. Knowing this and having witnessed such scenarios, the moral and personal imperative to strive to make a difference is clear. Being a part of the GO community gives you the opportunity to strive to make a difference, and the volunteers you get to work with inspire you to work harder toward this goal.
What do you gain from this experience?
I have learned how to manage diverse sets of volunteers, organize large scale events, synthesize data, develop agendas, mentor, work creatively with multi-disciplinary teams and translate ideas into action. Being a part of the GO community has influenced and shaped both my personal and professional interests, and the skills I have gained from volunteering with GO are easily translatable to other aspects of my life, including my current work as an internal medicine resident.
Thank you, Mounica, for your incredible service and dedication to GO's mission. Your co-founding and continued leadership of the GO Young Professionals Alliance (GO-YP) means that young people have a voice in the realm of global cancer care.
Mounica Vallurupalli, Clinical Fellow in Oncology, DFCI-MGH Cancer Center