Mar 07, 2019
Associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine and director of Cancer Survivorship at the Stanford Comprehensive Cancer Institute; Cancer.Net editor in chief; Journal of Clinical Oncology consultant editor.
What led you to oncology?
LS: My fascination with blood diseases. What started as an intellectual curiosity in solving problems turned into a lifelong interest in understanding how people live with and through a life-threatening illness, and cancer is the best example. I love the science, but I love the challenge of understanding suffering and resilience even more.
What’s the last book you read?
LS: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is simply outstanding. Bad Blood by journalist John Carreyrou is fantastic for a long plane trip, and Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward is a must-read for those interested in current affairs.
What hobbies to you enjoy?
LS: I love to travel with my family, spend time outdoors, and have great conversations with friends.
Do you have a personal motto?
LS: Find a way to help.
What career could you see yourself in if you weren’t an oncologist?
LS: I could be happy as a college professor of moral philosophy… although I would miss the action of medicine.
What changes do you envision for the field in the next 10 years?
LS: I think we will be increasingly able to customize treatment plans so they are more effective and less toxic. As technologies advance and we are able to use laboratory methods and big data to select a treatment that is best suited to meet the needs of each patient, the way cancer care is delivered is bound to change. I anticipate many patients will be on treatment for long periods of time and will need to learn to manage their care, and this presents opportunities to improve awareness, education, and interventions to improve self-efficacy. We are going to need teams to deliver that care, and I hope care becomes less fragmented across all phases of cancer treatment, including life “after cancer.” So our challenge is to rethink care with each patient and caregiver front and center, and design supportive interventions that provide guidance and counseling to maintain their physical and emotional functioning even during challenging times.
What would you say to a young physician thinking about entering the field of oncology?
LS: Mentoring young physicians is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I try to say little; instead, I listen for important themes in the way they talk about their professional interests and what makes them tick. What keeps them coming back to work every day? Oncology provides exceptional opportunities for making important contributions to society, through research, education, and most importantly by caring for each patient with humility and respect.