1) You will be coming back to Leavenworth High School March 5 as the speaker for the Leavenworth Public School Foundation's annual breakfast. How does it feel to be coming back?
I am very honored to come back to the Leavenworth Public School Foundation’s Annual Breakfast. I think it is important for a community to see the results of their commitment to students and how this can pay off in the short and long term.
2) What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine, and then to focus on cancer research?
I have always been interested in science — influenced by my mother (who is a biology teacher) and spending our formative years growing up on a farm outside of Leavenworth. As with many pivotal moments in life, experiences can lead you down an uncharted path. This was how I became interested in cancer research 17 years ago — from my own experience as a caregiver for my mother when she was undergoing cancer treatment. This first hand experience resulted in my interest and drive to improve the lives of cancer survivors through clinical research.
3) You recently helped launch a startup company aimed at training medical professionals to be able to provide cancer survivorship services. How did that idea develop?
When I see a problem, I want to fix it! With a growing number of cancer survivors (over 14 million today) and changes in national standards mandating the delivery of survivorship care planning by 2015, there is a growing need to educate health care providers how to on care for cancer survivors. As the director of cancer survivorship at the National Cancer Institute designated University of Kansas Cancer Center, we opened the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center in 2006. As an early adapter, we became a model for the delivery of survivorship care across the country. In order to increase the ability for specialists, primary care providers, and cancer support staff to deliver personalized care to cancer survivors, Cancer Survivorship Training, Inc., was built to accelerate access to evidence based continuing education for providers across the country.
4) How did your experience in the Leavenworth schools shape your own path in life?
The Leavenworth public schools provided me with a rich environment to grow and excel in academics, sports, and leadership. The diverse student body and involved faculty, administrators, and parents, were key elements in evolving into well-rounded professional.
5) What advice would you give to those students currently in the Leavenworth schools?
A key element to success is to find something you love or really like doing and stick with it! The path to success is not always an easy one, so set goals — try and possibly fail and then try again — you learn far more from disappointment and challenges than successes. When you look back you will see a path, but it may not be evident along you journey, so do not give up but keep moving forward and believe in yourself and your vision.
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