Update from Ami Bhatt

Dear friends, volunteers, and partners of GO,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones very well. I am writing to you from my new position as Assistant Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Stanford University, as of October 2014. While I’m disappointed to have missed my friends during this record-breaking winter in Boston, the eternal spring of Palo Alto is suiting me well. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by many inspiring and amazing new friends here, and am energized by the creativity and spirit of innovation that imbues all aspects of life in the Bay area. I am settling in well and my laboratory is up and running – and luckily for me, is filling up quickly with brilliant, talented and fun folks. Meanwhile, Franklin and I, along with a team of bright and committed GO leaders, continue to meet regularly and are working to broaden GO’s scope and impact.

2015 is an exciting year for GO. Some highlights:

  • The Global Cancer Project Map (a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute) is launching to the public on March 25th
  • GO’s 2nd Annual Symposium is being held at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle on March 31st.
  • Our low-literacy Patient Education Materials are making their way to Haiti.
  • The Belarus Palliative Care Initiative is planning a second workshop in September in Minsk.
  • Students for GO and GO Young Professionals are gaining ground with a new chapter at BU and specific initiatives like the Tele-radiology Project.
  • Along with several colleagues at the Center for Innovation in Global Health and beyond, I am leading an effort to build a Stanford-based Global Oncology Initiative.
  • Organizationally, we are streamlining GO’s message so that no matter where we are in the world, GO volunteers are singing the same tune.
  • In 2015 we are initiating annual fundraising, building an advisory network, and working strategically to grow and support our talented volunteers.

For me, being at Stanford for the last five months has highlighted the importance of decentralizing GO and forging personal networks wherever possible in order to sustain and scale our efforts and our successes. GO Bay Area complements GO Boston, GO Seattle, and all of our chapters. We now have a Palo Alto/Bay Area team of volunteers focused on growing the organization in ways we have not yet had the resources to address. Equally important, a Palo Alto presence has exposed GO to a whole new cohort of global cancer and philanthropic minds, tremendously expanding our network.

I close with a story – Heng is a 22 year old woman who was recently seen by Dr. Rob Negrin, the Chief of my BMT division at Stanford, during a medical volunteerism trip to Cambodia. She is a bright and enthusiastic young woman, recently married and full of life – unfortunately, Heng was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia very recently. As you all likely know, if Heng had access to cancer care in the US, she would have an ~85% chance of being cured. But without our help, she won’t have access and will die of a highly curable disease – simply because she happens to live in Cambodia. The work that you and I are engaged in to address these types of tragic inequalities is critical to people like Heng and her family – and while we have made incredible progress, we have a long way to go. In hearing about Heng, I am reminded of the profound significance of GO’s work, and I have renewed inspiration to spend every effort leveling the playing field of cancer care worldwide. I hope you’ll consider following this link and supporting Heng. Note: the fundraiser has ended, but you can recent updates of Heng’s progress.

In closing, I want you all to understand the impact of your broader work on behalf of GO. Some of you are advocates for improved cancer and palliative care, others are occasional volunteers, and many of you dedicate several hours or more of your week to these efforts. Each and every one of you is helping to make a difference. By building solutions that scale and that leverage the talents of medical and non-medical professionals, alike, you are helping to ensure that the future will be free of such stark and unfair inequalities.

Most importantly – I want to personally thank you for your vision, friendship and dedication.

Yours very truly,
Ami

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