What inspired you to volunteer with GO?
I was first introduced to GO by one of my principal investigators in my department at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute back in late 2013. I went on to attend GO’s first annual symposium in early 2014 at Dana-Farber and was impressed with GO’s comprehensive network of physicians, nurses, entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and students. All of them were dedicating a lot of time and effort towards tackling the complex issue of preventing and treating cancer in the developing world.
What is your role as a GO volunteer?
Originally, I was involved with the teleconference tumor board collaboration with Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Malawi. As I became more familiar with GO’s mission and its various projects, I was able to maintain and improve the GO Collaboration & Advising Platform (CAP). It is essentially an online forum where physicians from resource limited areas can privately post cancer cases so that oncologists from Dana-Farber and other cancer institutes can provide their expertise on diagnosis and treatment with that particular case. So far, I have partnered with hospitals in countries such as Malawi, Guatemala and Nepal. I hope to help expand this effort in the future.
When you’re working on a GO project, what most energizes you and why?
I am most energized by the fact that treating cancer in remote areas of the world is an incredibly complicated and difficult problem to undertake. This is because many countries are limited in what treatment they can provide. For example, radiotherapy machines, certain chemotherapy drugs, and access to surgical care are often not available to many people living with cancer in the developing world. Even basic palliative care can be out of reach for patients with a terminal diagnosis. GO may not be able to provide these things directly, but at least they are able to provide things like expertise, training, networking opportunities, and educational resources to those who can benefit from it. I appreciate what GO hopes to accomplish, and am proud to be involved in driving its mission forward.
What do you gain from this experience?
Working with GO over the last few years has allowed me to learn more about the dynamic and multifaceted field of global health in regard to cancer care. From working with GO, I feel like I have gained a better understanding of how small volunteer projects can make an impact at the local level, and how nonprofit organizations can make an impact on a global level. There is still much for me to learn since each country and organization has different strengths and weaknesses, but I believe that this experience will ultimately help me be a better clinician and public health professional. I appreciate the various connections I have made through GO and have truly enjoyed working alongside everyone involved in fighting for this cause.
Adam J. Lessard, MPH & Candidate for DO