Sheldon Davidson, MD: Helping Advance the Field of Oncology Through Philanthropy

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Sheldon Davidson, MD, has been an ASCO member for nearly 30 years, and has been a donor to the Conquer Cancer Foundation since its origins as The ASCO Foundation nearly 15 years ago.

As a practicing oncologist, Dr. Davidson’s explanation for why he has chosen to support the Conquer Cancer Foundation is succinct. “If we depended entirely on the government to support us, we would be going nowhere,” he said. “I think as professionals we have an obligation to advance the field as much as we can, to help young practitioners to be able to do research and support themselves while they’re doing it.”

The Conquer Cancer Foundation is dedicated to building a world free from the fear of cancer in all its manifestations. However, during the month of October, the work that the Foundation and its supporters do to improve the treatment and outcomes for patients with breast cancer comes to the forefront. Dr. Davidson cites breast cancer as the most common diagnosis in his Northridge, California, practice.

“Although we’ve made significant advances, particularly with HER2-positive disease, we still have a lot of room for improvement,” he said.

Conquering Breast Cancer Through Research

In October, Breast Cancer Awareness month presents a unique opportunity for the entire breast cancer community—patients, caregivers, advocates, nonprofit organizations, and members of the cancer care team—to engage in the conversation surrounding the state of breast cancer care.  For Dr. Davidson, hope and advocacy are crucial components of that discussion. “I think they have to have an optimistic point of view that advances are being made, that treatment of breast cancer is something that we are well aware of and working on, and that they need to do whatever they can to push the government to help the field of oncology,” he said.

Alongside that optimism is a continued commitment to advancing breast cancer care on multiple fronts. “We’ve made significant advances in treatment, but there’s a lot yet that we need to do for patients,” said Dr. Davidson. “For example, in the area of survivorship: How do we take care of the patients after they’re done with their treatment? How do we follow them for second malignancies or complications of our treatment?”

“Research is the answer, and we need to support research,” he said.

Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants and Awards

In the past 4 years, the Conquer Cancer Foundation has provided more than $4.3  million in funding for breast cancer research, supporting not only projects focused on drug development and treatment regimens, but also on survivorship, genetics, side- and late-effect management, health-care disparities, and the relationship between breast cancer and lifestyle factors like smoking and obesity.

Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants and Awards are largely focused on early-career physician-scientists, helping them to launch enduring careers in research. A recent survey of past recipients on the occasion of the Grants and Awards Program’s 30th Anniversary revealed that more than 98% of past recipients of Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator and Career Development Awards remain active in oncology research. In the past 5 years, Foundation donors like Dr. Davidson have not only invested in individual breakthrough research projects in breast cancer, but also in establishing a professional pipeline of talented breast cancer researchers that will benefit patients—and advance the field of oncology—for decades to come.

Addressing the Full Spectrum of Cancer Care

Breast cancer is just one diagnosis of many faced by the patients ASCO members treat every day, and the Conquer Cancer Foundation continues to work to build a world free from the fear of cancer for all patients. From the most common cancers to the most rare, from pediatric to geriatric oncology, from prevention, to survivorship, to end-of-life care, Conquer Cancer Foundation donors support a range of multidisciplinary projects encompassing the full continuum of oncology care.

Conquer Cancer Foundation supporters come from all walks of life, each with a unique connection to cancer and the practice of oncology. Many, like Dr. Davidson, are ASCO members, and are particularly committed to advancing the field of oncology through their philanthropy. As Dr. Davidson puts it: “Everyone has to do their share. Everyone has to stand together, because if we don’t do it no one else is going to do it for us.” ■

© 2013. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.