By B. Mark Evers, MD, UK Markey Cancer Center Director
In Kentucky and our surrounding regions, we face a significant cancer burden. While we have worked hard to grow our team and expand our treatments and resources, it is clear that the roots of the problem run deep. In order to make the biggest impact we can, we must think outside the box to inspire our communities to learn more about the problem at hand and challenge the issue where it begins.
That is why I am so excited about the expansion of the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) Program. This program, formerly known as CTOP, offers Appalachian Kentucky high school and undergraduate students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of cancer care and make a difference in their own communities. With the latest round of NCI-funding, this program will continue to flourish as the next round of students apply for the upcoming summer program.
This is a wonderful program on a couple different levels. First and foremost, we are excited to help these students begin their medical research careers and encourage them to be ambitious professionals. But the ripple effects of empowering students from Appalachia is particularly notable.
Markey is not only helping bright young minds excel with proper mentors and resources. We are shining a light on the exceptional students from underrepresented areas. Providing this recognition goes a long way toward showing their friends and families that we are all in this together. It highlights both the significant cancer burden we face and the efforts we are making to put an end to it, all with the help of people from right around the corner.
It is important that we keep that perspective in all of our outreach efforts. Every time we meet a patient or someone looking for help, we have to remember that that relationship is with more than this one person. Our efforts to help go beyond those we work with and can influence those around them who are not taking the right measures to improve their health.
Making an effort to educate someone about cancer can spread across their networks and make significant impact. With the issues our region faces, it will take even more than own our team to win that fight. It will require perseverance every step of the way to help these communities and convince them and their peers that major improvements can come with small, daily changes. The ACTION Program is a fantastic bridge to making these connections, and we can its goals in mind with all of the work that we do for patients.