Oct 03, 2022
The ASCO Annual Meeting is a crucial time for oncologists to gather and discuss the latest research in cancer care. It is also the perfect time to gather with peers and spotlight the reasons why oncologists do what they do every day. This is ASCO Voices.
“As health care professionals, our practices are built on the stories of patients we have had the privilege to be part of,” said Edmond Ang, MBBCh, FRACP, MRCP, a medical oncologist with Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Center, in Whangarei, New Zealand.
Patients are the most important partners in cancer care and research. Better, more equitable, and engaged cancer care hinges on forging deeper, more meaningful relationships between oncology professionals and patients. ASCO Voices showcases a variety of personal narratives and perspectives from the oncology community that illustrate the compassionate side of medicine and cancer care. It provides an opportunity to take a break from the science and share stories of humanity in medicine.
Stories Worth Sharing
Kevin Diasti, MD, a hematology and oncology fellow at NYU Langone Health, was intrigued by ASCO Voices when he saw the call for auditions in his inbox. He watched talks from past years and realized that he, too, had a story to share.
“I auditioned to honor the stories of my patients and to do my part in ensuring that their experiences would be told at our profession’s largest academic conference," said Dr. Diasti.
Dr. Ang submitted two auditions. His stories had a profound impact on his practice, and he wanted to share them with others.
“When a patient story touches you so deeply, or when you are passionate about something, it flows naturally out of you from the abundance that wells up from within,” said Dr. Ang. When his story “Chemoboy” was accepted, he felt elated and deeply humbled.
Khamai Simpson, MSc, a patient engagement manager at Ancora.ai, decided to audition to share her unique insights on the perspectives of patients who have difficulty finding information about how to enroll in clinical trials. Simpson works every day to understand economic and sociocultural factors that affect access to high-quality health care and dismantle barriers to more equitable care.
“I knew that putting the lived realities of patients with cancer in the spotlight would spark discussion about the true accessibility of clinical trials and remind researchers and physicians what interventions toward equity in clinical trial participation really entails,” she shared.
An Unforgettable Experience
When Dr. Diasti was working on his ASCO Voices audition, he was nervous. “In full transparency, I did think at times ‘I’m a first-year fellow. Why would anyone be interested in hearing my story when there are those much more experienced than [I]?’ I quickly learned that you are never too young or early in your career to advocate for your patients,” he said.
Nerves kicked back in as speakers got ready to present that day, but the support Dr. Diasti’s fellow presenters showed him gave him the confidence he needed to step out on stage and deliver his story.
“Our community is welcoming, and we want to hear about the experiences of everyone in our field, even if you are just starting out,” said Dr. Diasti.
While on stage, Ms. Simpson felt like she was providing another form of discourse for attendees.
“Putting patients in the focus allowed us to all be aware of the patients who should benefit from the advancements in oncology being discussed at the meeting,” said Ms. Simpson.
“ASCO Voices adds diversity, depth, perspective, and color to an already great scientific meeting,” said Dr. Ang. “To share the stage with likeminded speakers and to receive heartwarming feedback from attendees who were touched by the story I shared was infinitely rewarding. Speaking at ASCO Voices was and remains one of the highlights of my life.”
Share Your Untold Story
Enhance your 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting experience by becoming a part of it through ASCO Voices. Think about what aspect of your professional life brings you the greatest joy or pain. What are you deeply passionate about? Is there a story or a patient encounter that has impacted you personally or professionally?
“I would say, start by examining your professional routine if you are thinking of a story to submit. Sometimes the best insights can come from a careful examination of what we do every day,” said Dr. Diasti.
Ms. Simpson called the ASCO Voices session “a moment of reflection and dedicated to storytelling as a medium to reach attendees. Taking the opportunity to tell your story allows listeners to expand their knowledge about cancer care in whichever way you uniquely decide to share it.”
“You have nothing to lose! Consider enriching others by adding your voice to ASCO Voices 2023,” said Dr. Ang.
Use your voice to support and inspire fellow oncology professionals with personal reflections and lessons learned. Auditions for the 2023 ASCO Voices at the ASCO Annual Meeting will be accepted until 11:59 PM (ET) on November 15, 2022. Visit ASCO Voices to learn how to submit your audio recording.