Attending ASCO: Insights for Advocates – Part 2

Dusty continues her interview with ASCO’s Patient Advocacy Director, Jeannine Salamone. Click here to read Part 1.


Dusty: “You mentioned what organization they represent and if that organization is a 501(c)(3). How important is that to ASCO?”

Jeannine: “It does factor in, of course. I mentioned that these folks can volunteer or be employed by a 501(c)(3), there’s also those who don’t necessarily do that but they do participate in things like grant review for DoD or for NCI or FDA. They might not be working for or volunteering for a nonprofit but they are certainly advocates who are contributing and working very hard and not getting paid—quite frankly—for all they do. So those people are certainly encouraged to apply as well.”

What can advocates expect?

Dusty: “What can an advocate expect when coming here for the first time?”

Jeannine: “Hopefully, they don‘t feel overwhelmed, because when they’re around 40,000 other people in a convention center and you’ve never experienced that before, it can be a little daunting, right? So we try to make them feel that they have a home base here at our Patient Advocate Lounge, a place where they can seek refuge and do everything from network to grab something to eat, grab some coffee and come to our sessions that we host here.

“We also offer them the opportunity to bring medical professionals in to meet with, because meeting space is prime real estate here at the convention center. So for advocates to have space where they can do that is important. We see advocates bringing in their medical advisory board, their board of directors or medical experts they work with. They come in and they meet with them and make the best use of their time here. We love to offer that for them. They seem to like it and appreciate it, which is great.”

An image of the author, Dusty Donaldson, with Jeannine Salamone, ASCO’s Director of Patient Advocacy at the conference.

Staying in the loop

Dusty: “Is there anything else you think is important to add to our discussion today?”

Jeannine: “There is a membership category—Patient Advocacy Membership—with ASCO, with lots of benefits. We’ve tried to make it affordable. I would encourage advocates to explore that option. That way they get regular communications about ASCO, about our meetings, programs, and opportunities. Also, if they aren’t getting emails from us about our patient advocate programs, to let me know so we can get them in the loop; get them in the know so they are informed and take advantage of all the programs we have during the year.”

Dusty: “I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve attended your Survivorship meeting, Palliative Care, and Quality Care in Oncology. Those were great!”

Focusing on topics of personal interest

Jeannine: “So we have several symposia throughout the year, smaller meetings. Those are great opportunities for advocates to hone in a little bit more on issues and topics that are of interest to them. Because here at the Annual Meeting, it’s all cancers. It’s a much larger meeting, obviously.”

Dusty: “Do you think there will ever be a time when ASCO does a meeting just for lung cancer? Do they do one for breast cancer?”

Jeannine: “We used to have a symposium for breast cancer for many years. But it did not continue. Same with the Cancer Survivorship Symposium. But, yes, perhaps there’s an opportunity down the road for a lung cancer meeting or something else. I don’t know what the future holds but we’ll see.”

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