ASCO Remembers Patient Advocate Ellen L. Stovall, FASCO

Jan 06, 2016

ASCO mourns the passing and honors the life of Ellen L. Stovall, FASCO, who passed away on January 5, 2016. Ms. Stovall was a tireless leader of the cancer survivorship movement, having served as President and CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) since 1992 and more recently as the organization’s Senior Health Policy Advisor. A 42-year cancer survivor herself, Ms. Stovall spent more than 30 years advocating for improved cancer care in the United States.

“To many of us—likely thousands—she was a trustworthy friend, a mentor, a collaborator, a visionary. Ellen was all of this and more, and always with a generous heart, a keen mind, a quick wit, and unswerving ethics. How fortunate we were to know her; how grateful we are for her thinking and her work for all cancer survivors,” said Sandy Welton, Chair of the NCCS Board, in a statement.

Ms. Stovall dedicated herself to patient advocacy and public service following her diagnosis with Hodgkin lymphoma at age 24. She survived two cancer recurrences during her lifetime and passed away from cardiac complications related to her previous cancer therapies. 

She joined ASCO in 1996 and was a dedicated volunteer to the Society. At the time of her passing, she was serving as a patient representative to the Palliative Care Committee, a member of the Journal of Oncology Practice Editorial Board, and on the ASCO-AHRQ Virtual Learning Collaborative Project Advisory Committee. Her past ASCO volunteer service includes terms on the Cancer Survivorship Committee, the Quality Care Symposium Planning Committee (2011-2012 Co-Chair), the Clinical Practice Committee, and the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, among many others.

“Ellen Stovall was the quintessential patient advocate: dedicated, wise, forceful, and universally respected. Her work helped influence many of the major policy advances in the oncology world for the benefit of patients and health care providers. She leaves a void that will be hard to fill,” said ASCO CEO Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO.

ASCO recognized Ms. Stovall’s impact as a patient advocate several times, presenting her with the Special Recognition Award in 1996, the Partners in Progress Award in 2003, and inducting her as a Fellow of ASCO in 2008.

“Ellen Stovall was a passionate advocate for the unique needs of cancer survivors. As a long-term cancer survivor herself, she understood the concerns and fears of cancer survivors, the chronic disabilities they experience and the impact of surviving cancer on a person’s ability to return to a normal, productive and satisfying life after cancer. Through her work with NCCS, Ellen worked tirelessly to draw attention to and address the medical, psychological, and societal challenges faced by cancer survivors and to insure they have access to the support and services they need,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FASCO.

Ms. Stovall was a founding member of the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Board and its successor, the National Cancer Policy Forum. Prior to the establishment of the Forum, she was Vice-Chair of the National Cancer Policy Board and co-chaired its Committee on Cancer Survivorship. In that capacity, she co-edited the Institute of Medicine’s watershed report From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition.

She served as Vice-Chair of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Advisory Committee to Promote Excellence in Care at the End of Life, and as the Vice-Chair of the Foundation’s National Advisory Committee for Pursuing Perfection: Raising the Bar for Health Care Performance.

Ms. Stovall served on the Boards of Directors of the National Committee for Quality Assurance and The Leapfrog Group, and she served on a committee of the National Quality Forum to establish consensus around cancer care quality measures. She also served on several advisory panels, working groups and committees of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Association for Cancer Research. In 1992, then-President Bill Clinton appointed Ms. Stovall to a 6-year term on the NCI’s National Cancer Advisory Board.

Her legacy lives on in the Ellen Stovall Award, created in 2010 by NCCS and Lilly Oncology, which recognizes individuals who use their artistic talents or public prominence to champion cancer survivorship.

“Her decades of advocacy have had lasting impact that will improve the lives of every cancer survivor now and for generations to come. The cancer community has lost a force for good in the world and we will miss Ellen dearly,” Dr. Schilsky said.


Dean H. Gesme, MD, FASCO, FACP

Jan, 06 2016 6:51 PM

A wonderful individual and penultimate leader in cancer advocacy.  She has created a legacy that benefits millions!

Cary A. Presant, MD, FACP, FASCO

Jan, 06 2016 7:49 PM

Patients and the oncology profession have lost a tireless worker on behalf of access to best care, progress in research and clinical trials, and availability of  teams of health care professionals that contribute to early diagnosis, state or the art therapy, and survivorship issues. As a colleague, I was helped by her advice and discussions as we served together at national meetings and organizations. As a pioneer in advocating for the quality of life of cancer patients, Ellen has left a legacy of always fighting on behalf of those afflicted with cancer. She will always be in our hearts.

Sarah S. Donaldson, MD, FASCO

Jan, 06 2016 9:17 PM

I'm heart sick to hear of Ellen's passing. We all have lost a wonderful friend. She will remain in my heart forever. Sarah Donaldson

Jerome W. Yates, MD, MPH

Jan, 07 2016 10:34 AM

Ellen was an intelligent contributor to many aspects of cancer care, while providing common sense to the many discussions related to how we could "do things better". Her sagacity and sincereity will be missed.

Diane B. Paul

Jan, 07 2016 1:22 PM

I met Ellen Stoval back in 1998 at the first Ovarian Cancer National Alliance conference.  She inspired us all to become advocates.  It is sad that we lost her to a side effect from the treatment that saved her from cancer.  I hope ASCO will push forward with getting the medical establishment to increase research and availabiliy of specialists in the area of cardiooncology.  It would be a fitting honor for Ellen if this proceeds in her name.

Diane Paul  22year survivor, advanced ovarian cancer, diagnosed with cardiomyopathy 7 years after completing treatment


John V. Cox

Jan, 08 2016 1:16 PM

Ellen's was a voice that knitted us together -- Truly will be missed.

Edward P. Balaban, FACP, DO, FASCO

Jan, 09 2016 10:28 PM

Ellen's impact will live on.  The bar set by Ellen is one "medicine" overall would do well to reach.  We will miss her.

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