Q: What is the most remarkable difference between the work you did back when you first started compared to the work you do at City of Hope today?
Dr. Stephen J. Forman
Dr. Stephen J. Forman (SF): There are very few cancers for which we have not made significant progress, including our work in transplant to cure leukemia and lymphoma. Although the therapies have changed, the goal of treating each person as a unique individual, preserving their own personal dignity under such difficult circumstances, remains unchanged.
Q: In addition to innovative science and research, City of Hope is well-known for its compassionate care. What does “compassionate care” mean within the context of what you do?
SF: I believe very strongly that the care of a patient with cancer is a deeply personal one and that, as a physician, we have the privilege of becoming a part of another person’s life. I try never to refer to them as a cancer patient, but as a person who has been afflicted by the disease. A person is not their diagnosis or their cancer, but rather a vital human being, often beloved by family, friends and a community; thus, when we take care of one person, we are taking care of many and the saving of a single life is actually saving many lives.
Q: You have seen and accomplished so much in your time at City of Hope, including being voted one of the Best Doctors in America. What are you most proud of when you look back over your career?
SF: Over the years, I have been most proud of the scientific accomplishments of my colleagues with whom I have had the privilege to work on studies which have changed the prognosis of treatment for so many people.
Q: Many patients have said that there is a special relationship between the patients and the entire staff at City of Hope. They truly feel like partners with the staff in their treatment. What is the most important component in creating that sense of empowerment for them?
SF: The most important thing we can do as physicians and nurses in caring for someone with cancer is to win and remain worthy of their trust throughout their illness so that they never feel alone or abandoned, knowing that when they come to us for care, they become a part of our community of healing.