Your SWOG colleagues are regularly doing things worthy of our notice.

They may tirelessly advocate for patients. Many mentor fellow nurses, physicians, pharmacists, statisticians, or patient advocates. Some always seem to come up with new and better ways to do things. A whole host serve with compassion and altruism.

I am very pleased to announce The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research has created new awards to honor outstanding SWOG Cancer Research Network members and staff for their dedicated service. Our first awards – for mentorship and humanitarianism – will be awarded in San Francisco in April. Then, in Chicago in October, we will give out awards for innovation and patient advocacy. To learn more, visit
this page on the Hope website. 

We owe a debt of gratitude to SWOG Vice Chair and Hope Board Member Dr. Lee Ellis for the idea.

Lee says his goal is simple: Recognize and reward SWOG members for the important and diverse contributions they make. One inspiration was learning that fellow SWOG executive Dr. Julie Gralow was doing groundbreaking cancer care and research advocacy work around the globe, from Kenya to Ukraine to Lebanon. Lee served on the ASCO awards committee and was made aware of Julie’s great work; Julie won the well-deserved ASCO Humanitarian Award in 2018, and Lee thought that we should bring this award mechanism, and others, to SWOG.

“The person sitting next to you at a meeting may be a superhero, but you don't know it because they are modest and help others out of the goodness of their hearts, not for recognition,” Lee explains. “There are others who are great mentors. They’re the person who you go to for advice, to air out issues, or they just to listen to you. These little conversations can change a person's career and, in turn, their life, and possibly the lives of others.”

I agree with Lee. There’s more to making progress against cancer than publications, presentations, and even practice-changing research. These are central to impact, but they don’t paint the whole picture. The new Hope awards will help us recognize and celebrate the full measure of our members and staff, and they also align with SWOG values, with their focus on integrity, mentorship, and making patients our highest priority.

I’m setting aside time at both Plenary 1 and Plenary 2 to present the awards. Each awardee will receive a plaque and a modest honorarium. I encourage you to nominate deserving members and staff – as many nominations as you like. (Note: SWOG executive officers, committee chairs, and vice chairs are not eligible. Neither are top staff leaders at any SWOG office. We want members whose names are not always in SWOG headlines to be recognized).

Hope has lined up some terrific adjudicators. Dr. Julie Gralow will lead the review for the Humanitarian Award. Dr. Dawn Hershman will take on review of the Mentorship Award, and Dr. Don Dizon and Dr. Lee Ellis will spearhead the Innovation Award. Patient Advocate Chair Rick Bangs and I will select the winners of the Patient Advocacy Award.

The more nominations we get, the more meaningful the awards will be. Please submit your nominations for humanitarian and mentorship superheroes by February 28! I appreciate your participation in this important new award program.