Oncology Optimist

“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else. “

I came across this quote recently and it stopped me dead in my tracks. So few words that say so much. Certainly there are many positive quotes around that inspire. What was it about this one that grabbed at me, deep inside? And I realized I was reading my own worldview put into two sentences.

I don’t think I could work in oncology unless I saw the world in an optimistic way.  I believe in hope and good outcomes. I have seen hope’s work in action.  I have seen survivors survive longer than anyone thought possible. I have seen resiliency at its finest in those who climb Mount Cancer and come up and over their own cancer mountain. They come over on the other side and are forever changed – and they create change in their worlds.

Folks like Melanie Goldish, the founder of SuperSibs.  SuperSibs supports and honors siblings who are impacted by oncology – not just cancer but any oncology related illness.  And, as I understand it, SuperSibs came from Melanie’s experiences with her two young sons.  While one son was in treatment, Melanie noted all the support available to her son the patient – but not so much support was available to her son the sibling.  Once her son the patient was home after his bone marrow transplant, Melanie was on her way to creating life changing support for siblings.

Or Jonny Imerman, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26 and believes no one should have to fight cancer alone.  While he had great support from friends and family, he had very few cancer peers – those his own age who had been there and done that.  In 2003 he founded Imermans Angels – a cancer support organization that matches cancer patients and survivors with each other for the one on one support that he craved during his treatment.

Then there’s Dr. Ken McClain, whose tireless work for the Histiocytosis community knows no bounds.  Dr. McClain works at Texas Children’s Cancer Center where he treats children with Histiocytosis.  Not only does he treat patients with Histiocytois, but he is in the lab researching a cure for this blood disease, too.  But here is the thing – Dr. McClain’s power and impact come from his heart.  He makes himself available to families facing this disease.  He answers questions, and sees patients.  Families come from all over the world to work with Dr. McClain.  And he often consults and works remotely with oncology teams to determine the most effective treatment for patients diagnosed with this often unheard of oncology disease. He even road a fixed gear bike across the United States one summer to help create awareness and fundraise for a cure.

Allison Clarke knows about hope. Allison and her husband Kip founded Flashes of Hope during their son’s cancer treatment. Their mission was to change the way children with cancer saw themselves through the gift of photography. By photographing these children and their family members, they hoped to change their view of the cancer experience and raise money to fund pediatric cancer research.  The photographers who take these powerful photos are high level professional photographers who donate their time and talent to change the face of cancer in the eyes of a child.

I do have hope that there will be cures and that all the fundraising done in our oncology world will make a difference. I have hope that resiliency will win over resistance.  As you can see, however, I have much more than hope.

I have evidence. Evidence  that supports my choice to be an optimist.  Just ask Melanie, Ken, Jonny and Allison.

I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.






2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ken McClain on April 28, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Thanks for the kind words.
    Ken McClain


  2. Posted by Melanie Goldish on June 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Together, we are helping so many families heal. Hugs, hope and gratitude, Melanie Goldish


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