We’ve had a lot of feedback about last week’s fall virtual group meeting. It was overwhelmingly positive. Much of our success has to do with The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research.

Hope always supports group meetings - they fund food, speakers, and special programs like the Jeri & Noboru Oishi Symposium and the new Robert B. Livingston Lecture. This extraordinary year, Hope made extraordinary contributions to our virtual meeting.

Foundation staff jumped right in and remade our Crush the Crab fun run into a virtual event, complete with a heart-warming video of members from across the country – many of them running in tribute to loved ones they lost to cancer.

Hope President & CEO Jo Horn also took the lead, with SWOG Vice Chair Dr. Dawn Hershman, to create a panel discussion focused on COVID-19 and its professional and personal impact. The “Crucial Conversations” discussion touched on coping with stress, losing research funding, and, for some, the challenges of juggling child care, family responsibilities, and patient care during the pandemic (you can watch a recording of it here).

At the same time, Hope staff worked shoulder to shoulder with SWOG staff to create the special virtual group meeting website and our 80-page, blockbuster of an agenda book. Then came plenary. I was able to announce to you the winners of Hope’s new Special Recognition Awards, which go to members and staff who go above and beyond to be exceptional mentors, humanitarians, innovators, and patient advocates, in support of SWOG cancer trials. (If you missed it, watch the full plenary speech here, and see the Special Recognition Award winners around the 16:28 mark).

Hope has launched fundraising campaigns this year around the themes of “Hope Matters” and “Faith in the Future.” These slogans are apt. I’m reminded this year, during a time of great national misery, that hope (and Hope) does matter. A great deal. And that we must all have faith in our future, now more than ever.

Our charity gives us the tools to build a better future for people with cancer, a future built on scientific and medical evidence. During the pandemic, the foundation is doubling down. Expect another “Crucial Conversations” panel by the end of the year, one focused on reducing health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, rural residents, military veterans, and other underrepresented groups. There will be more “Crucial Conversations” in 2021 as well. Stay tuned also for a Hope award to our recruitment and retention and patient advocate committees that will help SWOG better address diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We all need it, so go get some Hope. Statisticians can apply for the John Crowley, PhD Award, due Oct. 15, and researchers can apply for the SWOG Early Exploration and Development (SEED) Award, due Dec. 1.

Please give to Hope, as well. I donated myself three days ago. You know your gifts are well spent, directly helping our team do ground-breaking research. We need Hope, but Hope needs us, too. Now more than ever.