Today’s post was written by Bert E. Thomas IV, PhD, MBA, CEO of the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
This is my last week at the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA). Over the last three years it has been my privilege to serve the sarcoma patient community through my role at the SFA. I have meet so many amazing patients, caregivers, doctors and researchers in that time. I have been moved by the challenges that each face, the perseverance that they demonstrate in their individual and collective efforts to achieve better patient outcomes, and the hope and optimism that the sarcoma community exudes in their pursuit to find the cure.
In my time at the SFA I have been driven by a few fundamental concepts:
1) The SFA needs to raise more money to fund more sarcoma research.
2) The SFA needs to educate patients and caregivers about their disease.
3) The SFA needs to raise disease awareness among the public.
It is my hope that in creating the Race To Cure Sarcoma 5K run/walk series that the SFA now has a platform to raise growing, recurring funds to support more sarcoma research while also raising disease awareness among the general public. Along with an increased and sustained effort to tell the stories of our patients and doctors, SFA fundraising has increased more than 24% last year and is on target for similar growth this year. More donor support = more sarcoma research.
Over the last few years, the SFA’s patient education conference series has grown from one conference in NYC to 10 conferences across the country in partnership with sarcoma centers. These conferences allow patients to connect with and learn from the best sarcoma doctors and researchers. More knowledge = more power. Each patient is their own best advocate and an educated patient is a powerful patient. The SFA wants all sarcoma patients to have the knowledge and power to advocate for the best care they can receive. I hope that the growing patient education conference series truly helps to empower more patients to be advocates in their care.
The SFA is in a great place to grow and increase its impact in its quest to achieve better patient outcomes. There are so many people that have helped me during my three year journey at the SFA that has culminated in the organization’s current trajectory, including the Board of Directors, the patients, the doctors, the donors and more. But as I leave at the end of this week I would like to give my biggest thank you to the staff that has been in the trenches with me every day of this wonderful journey. These jobs aren’t always the most glamorous jobs, or the best paid jobs, but they are jobs that need to be done to allow the SFA to touch and impact the most sarcoma patients possible. Without every person on my staff, we would not be half the organization we are today. They bring a passion and a desire to help patients every day they come to work. So as I depart, let me say thank you to everyone that helps the SFA and the sarcoma patient community, but my most heartfelt thank you goes to Mary, Lori, Cindy, Michaela, Michele, Kristal, and Mollie for all the hard work you do behind the scenes to make the SFA successful by helping sarcoma patients around the world.