Doctor Stories

Oncologists: Making a World of Difference in Cancer Care...One Patient at a Time

Cancer doctors (called oncologists) and cancer research scientists are making exceptional strides in virtually all aspects of cancer research, diagnosis, treatment and patient care; offering hope, comfort, and courage to people facing cancer and their families. On a daily basis, they provide assistance and compassion to patients, confront the problem of financial barriers to care, volunteer in their communities or participate in fundraising events, and work tirelessly to advance prevention and treatment of cancer. Read on to learn about some of the oncologists and scientists who are making a world of difference in cancer care.

Rafat Abonour, MD

October 29, 2012

Many doctors go the extra mile for their patients. Few go more than 1,000.For the past eight years, Rafat Abonour, MD—a clinical researcher focusing on multiple myeloma at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis—has gone the extra 1,400 miles for his patients.  Every fall since 2005, Dr. Abonour has set off on a two-day trek called Miles for Myeloma. He and a pack of around 20 cyclists crisscross the state of Indiana, traveling several hundred miles to raise awareness of and funding for multiple myeloma research. To date, he has helped raise more than $1.75 million.

Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP

August 6, 2012

Colleagues and patients alike note the extraordinary dedication that Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, demonstrates in the care of people with breast cancer, from large-scale efforts to highly personalized patient interactions. He specializes in inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a rare and aggressive form of the disease. Because IBC can grow and spread quickly, it is often advanced at the time of diagnosis. As a result, patients have historically had few treatment options.

William Gradishar, MD

June 13, 2012

Whenever William Gradishar, MD, meets a new patient with breast cancer, it's hard not to reflect on how far the field has advanced since he began practicing oncology. "A growing number of women with breast cancer now do very well on treatment, so I’m often struck by how vastly different their outcomes would have been just 20 years ago," said Dr. Gradishar, the Betsy Bramsen Professor of Breast Oncology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. "With today’s therapies, we're giving more patients back their lives – and their quality of life – and hopefully for a long time."

Brandon Fisher, DO

April 5, 2012

Brandon Fisher, DO, is going to great heights—literally—to touch the lives of people with cancer around the world. Along with other radiation oncologists and mountain climbers, Dr. Fisher founded Radiating Hope, a non-profit organization that raises funds and develops partnerships to update, replace, and provide radiation equipment in developing countries, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. He is also currently finishing his residency at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.

David Johnson, MD, FACP

February 16, 2012

For most medical students, there are few things more daunting than presenting a patient’s case before senior physicians and peers. It was no different for David Johnson, MD, FACP, when, as a student at the Medical College of Georgia more than 30 years ago, he presented the case of one of his first and most memorable cancer patients.

Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FACP

September 29, 2011

Dr. Olopade grew up in Nigeria, where opportunities and resources were much more limited than here in the United States. Yet she had a thirst for knowledge and persevered. After completing medical school at Nigeria’s University of Ibadan, she came to the United States to advance her career and help answer some of the difficult scientific questions she encountered in her early training.

Julie Gralow, MD

August 9, 2011

Dr. Julie Gralow has made it her personal mission to help women with breast cancer live healthy, fulfilling lives. This commitment has taken her beyond the clinic and into the lives of many of her patients, whether in her home town of Seattle or as far away as Ukraine and Uganda.

Frank McCormick, PhD

May 25, 2011

Behind nearly every new cancer therapy is a team of dedicated researchers who have translated cutting-edge laboratory science into a practical advance for patients. Since early in his career, Dr. Frank McCormick has been at the forefront of this work. His contribution to the field earned him ASCO’s esteemed 2010 Science of Oncology Award.

Clara Bloomfield, MD

February 3, 2011

For Dr. Clara Bloomfield, nothing beats the thrill of discovery. It is a feeling she knows well: Dr. Bloomfield’s discoveries over the past nearly 40 years have helped to transform leukemia and lymphoma from incurable, devastating diseases to ones for which cures are possible for many patients.

Nancy Davidson, MD

February 2, 2011

Dr. Nancy Davidson has seen many things change over the course of her 25-year career as a breast cancer researcher and physician. But by far the biggest change she has seen is the shift to a more “patient-centered focus” in cancer care.

Mark Kris, MD, FACP, FACCP

February 1, 2011

For oncologists, caring for patients means more than treating their cancer. It’s a comprehensive effort to coordinate their care and maximize their quality of life, both during and after treatment. To Dr. Mark Kris, a lung cancer specialist, this aspect of clinical oncology is what’s so gratifying about his chosen career.

Linda Vahdat, MD

January 30, 2011

Dr. Linda Vahdat calls her career in medicine “predetermined.” Growing up in a family of doctors, she was given a simple career choice by her parents: become a doctor or a lawyer. She never even considered the second option.