ASCO Remembers Patient Advocate Jack Whelan

Nov 20, 2017

Jack WhelanASCO and the oncology community mourn the loss of Jack Whelan, who passed away on November 16, 2017. Jack worked tirelessly as a patient advocate to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer.

After receiving a diagnosis for a rare and incurable type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2007, Jack retired from his job as an information technology research analyst and dedicated his time to advocating for cancer research on behalf of patients and to educating people about the importance of participation in clinical trials. He was described as “a one man band with a loud drum to engage and motivate others” and his impact could be felt across the cancer community.

In addition to being an ASCO member, Jack served as a member of the CancerLinQ Patient Advisory Committee, which oversees ASCO’s initiative to develop a learning health system in cancer care. In addition to guiding the development and operation of the CancerLinQ® platform from the patient perspective, Jack also helped educate and engage his fellow patient advocates on its potential benefit.

Jack also served as a member of the Cancer Survivorship Symposium Program Committee, which brings together both primary care physicians and oncologists to collaborate and learn about the survivorship issues faced throughout the cancer care continuum.  He was scheduled to speak at the 2018 symposium being held in Orlando in February; while Jack will be impossible to replace, another survivor advocate will speak at the meeting, in his place.

Outside of ASCO, Jack worked with numerous organizations across the health care community, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Drug Information Association, Rare Disease Legislative Advocacy, National Organization for Rare Disorders, Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety, and National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network.

He was also an associate member of the American Associate for Cancer Research and earlier this year received its Distinguished Public Service Award, which recognizes the innovative work of an individual or group toward preventing or curing cancer. His work to advocate for increases in federal research funding and help patients understand the benefits of participating in clinical trials while navigating the health care delivery system were cited for his selection as award recipient.

Jack was graduate of the University of Rhode Island and served as petty officer second class in the United States Navy.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jan, three daughters, and 10 grandchildren.

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