News reports by Joanne Silberner and the work of the Global Task Force for Cancer Care and Control initially highlighted the growing global needs of cancer patients. Learning how a diagnosis of curable breast cancer, for example, was a death sentence in resource-constrained settings, even though affordable therapies existed, was infuriating to me. So when I was given the opportunity to learn from mentors such as Franklin Huang, Ami Bhatt and Amy Judd in the Global Oncology community, I was grateful for a chance to help spread awareness of global cancer care needs to the Boston community.
What is your role as a GO volunteer?
Working with Amy Judd, I helped organize the inaugural GO Talk featuring Dr. Paul Farmer in November 2012. Franklin Huang was my research mentor at the time, and I was lucky to have met him when he and Ami Bhatt, the co-founders of GO, were creating their organization.
Around that fall, Mounica Vallurupalli and I started working on a student global oncology group. We hosted events featuring work of students such as Dave Shulman and Lenka Ilcisin. Several years later, we also hosted events such as the Global Oncology Hackathon.
Finally, during a year off from medical school, I helped continue a project implementing the patient education materials at Butaro Cancer Center in Rwanda.
When you’re working on a GO project, what most energizes you and why?
During my time learning at Butaro Cancer Center, I never ceased to be humbled by how patients would travel from neighboring countries to seek care or how clinicians/staff lived away from their own families to deliver care under challenging circumstances. Like many other volunteers, I am motivated most by the patients, who otherwise would be cured of their breast or colorectal cancer had they been born under other circumstances.
What I also enjoy most is how much fun I have with members of the global oncology community. The people in GO energize and inspire me with their own stories, passion, and work.
What do you gain from this experience?
I have been most grateful for the mentors and friends I have met from the GO community. Role models such as the co-founders of GO and classmates like Mounica and Shekinah Elmore show me how they navigate their careers and incorporate their passion for global oncology.