ASCO in the Community: A Doctor and a Pastor Talk About Cancer, Death, Hope, and Faith

December 6, 2018
Greg Guthrie, ASCO staff

Colin D. Weekes, MD, PhD, is director of Medical Oncology Research for Pancreatic Cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the 2018–2019 chair of the ASCO Annual Meeting Education Committee and is a graduate of the ASCO Leadership Development Program. The Reverend Joel B. Guillemette is the lead pastor of Sudbury United Methodist Church.

“Caring for every patient. Learning from every patient.” For ASCO President Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, this is more than just a presidential theme. To put action to words, she is heading to local communities to moderate question-and-answer town hall sessions with patients, caregivers, and oncology professionals. She and other ASCO members are responding to patients’ concerns and, at the same time, they are learning more about the challenges that exist in getting quality cancer care.share on twitter These sessions are called “ASCO in the Community: Listening and Learning from Our Patients.”

In this wide-ranging podcast about hope, faith, family, and death, Dr. Colin Weekes and Pastor Joel Guillemette discuss what they took away from the second session, which took place in Sudbury, Massachusetts, on September 10, 2018.

  • Why Sudbury decided to host an ASCO Town Hall. [2:48]

  • Dr. Weekes and Pastor Guillemette discuss having hope during a cancer diagnosis. [4:34]

  • Pastor Guillemette describes how he walks patients through the process of coping with fear and mortality. [8:26]

  • Describing that a patient and their family may have differences in recognizing that end of life is coming. [10:16]

  • Dr. Weekes and Pastor Guillemette discuss the intersection of hope, the American Dream, new personalized cancer treatments, and faith—and how these factors may play a role in accepting the prospect of death. [12:20]

  • What the doctor and the pastor have learned from each other. [17:37]

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In 2018 to 2019, ASCO is holding a series of ASCO Presidential Town Halls with local groups across the United States to hear from patients, providers, and the general public about real-world barriers to quality cancer care and to talk about ways to provide the best care to every person diagnosed with cancer. These events are free and open to everyone; pre-registration is necessary. Check back on Cancer.Net for additional locations and dates to be announced soon.

Whether you will be able to attend an ASCO Presidential Town Hall near you or not, we welcome comments from patients and caregivers about your experiences with cancer.

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