Cancer surgery society awards top honor to Kimberly Duchossois

March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011 Kimberly Duchossois and Mitchell Posner, MD, with the Society of Surgical Oncology's James Ewing Layman's Award.

At its annual cancer symposium, the Society of Surgical Oncology presented the 43rd annual James Ewing Layman's Award to Kimberly T. Duchossois of Barrington Hills, Ill., for her deep commitment and long-term efforts to improve the quality of cancer treatment and help cancer patients get the information they need to make wise decisions about their care.

The award, presented Saturday, March 5, at the Society's 64th annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, celebrates the contributions of those who are not cancer physicians but who find unique ways to improve cancer care. Past recipients include Mary Lasker, Ann Landers, Jane Brody, Evelyn Lauder, Nancy Brinker, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Arnold Palmer, Hamilton Jordan, Tommy Thompson and, in 2000, Richard Duchossois, Kim's father.

"By virtue of Kim's leadership and vision, she and her family are helping to improve the lives of cancer patients and their families on a daily basis," said Society President Mitchell Posner, MD, the Thomas D. Jones Professor and vice chairman of surgery and section chief of general and oncologic surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "They have helped inspire and inform a nationwide effort to connect all cancer patients with the comprehensive services they need."

"On behalf of the Duchossois family, it is overwhelmingly humbling to receive such distinguished recognition for the absolute privilege to work on behalf of cancer patients and families as they move through their challenging journeys," Kimberly Duchossois said. "To be among the many gifted oncological surgeons and have the chance to express deep gratitude for their critical role in a cancer patient's well being is truly a gift."

The family's dedication to cancer care, and to cancer patients, began in 1980 when Beverly Duchossois--Richard's wife and Kim's mother--died of cancer at age 57. Since then, the entire family has made steady and significant contributions to cancer research and patient support services.

A young mother at the time of Beverly's death, Kim is now 57. "She tells me she often imagines how different the outcome might have been if Beverly had been diagnosed today," Posner said. "The field has progressed rapidly and we now have so many more treatment tools."

To help newly diagnosed patients understand their options and gain access to the best possible care, Kim and her family made the first of two transformational gifts in 2003 to create and endow the American Cancer Society Patient Navigation Services™. Although initially restricted to Chicago, Patient Navigation Services have now rolled out nationwide to serve the millions who will face a cancer diagnosis.

Navigators guide and support cancer patients, their families and caregivers throughout the difficult and complicated process of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Services in the program range from counseling and transportation to state-of-the-art cancer care and treatment options.

Navigators are especially valuable for those who have difficulty accessing quality care and support. They can provide individualized assistance to patients, families, and caregivers; facilitate timely access to quality medical and psychosocial care; and help patients overcome health care system barriers.

"This is a golden opportunity to encourage many cancer specialists to make use of the vital human services available to them--and their patients--through the American Cancer Society's Patient Navigation Services, which profoundly complements their scientific expertise," Duchossois said.

"Thanks to support from Kim and her family for this approach," Posner said, "the American Cancer Society reached more than 31,000 new cancer patients in Illinois alone in 2010 and 500,000 patients and their caregivers across the country with comprehensive services. This effort is invaluable in addressing the cancer patient's needs in a comprehensive manner, which is what they need and deserve."

The Duchossois Family Foundation, under Kim's guidance, empowers cancer researchers and those facing cancer at all levels, Posner said. "It supports scholars and academic institutions, but it also helps those in family and social services, and those facing end-of-life issues."

With more than 2,500 members, the Society of Surgical Oncology is dedicated to improving cancer care and advancing the science and practice of cancer surgery worldwide. Created by James Ewing, the founder of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, it is the pre-eminent professional society for physicians who specialize in surgical treatment of all types of solid tumors.

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