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JCO's Cancer Stories: The Art of Oncology podcast series consists of author interviews and professional readings of the section’s content. This platform provides authors with the opportunity to comment on their work, offers better accessibility for readers, and stimulates more conversations. Art of Oncology publishes personal essays, reflections, and opinions in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, giving our readers a chance to reflect on important aspects of practice and help shape our professional discourse. We hope you enjoy listening to these thought-provoking stories.

The series also includes interviews with pioneers of the field of oncology. These conversations bring fascinating insights into the scientific basis for the evolution of cancer care as well as the courage, vision, and ability to overcome logistical barriers to make the advances that we now take for granted. By understanding how we got to the present, we can work toward a better future.

Cancer Stories is hosted by Dr. Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO and Dr. Daniel Hayes, MD, FASCO, FACP.

Dr. Lidia Schapira Dr. Daniel Hayes

Dr. Lidia Schapira is the consultant editor for JCO’s Art of Oncology. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine where she serves as the Director of the Cancer Survivorship Program. Dr. Schapira’s research interests are in the field of breast cancer, psychosocial oncology and health disparities. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of ASCO’s Cancer.Net, a website that provides expert vetted information about cancer to patients and caregivers.

Dr. Daniel F. Hayes is the Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. Dr. Hayes’ research interests are in the field of experimental therapeutics and cancer biomarkers, especially in breast cancer. He has served as chair of the SWOG Breast Cancer Translational Medicine Committee, and he was an inaugural member and chaired the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Tumor Marker Guidelines Committee. Dr. Hayes served on the ASCO Board of Directors, and served a 3 year term as President of ASCO from 2016-2018.

All guests on ASCO podcasts agree to provide evidence-based information to our listeners. Guests agree to provide objective commentary free from commercial bias, and they agree to respect patient privacy. Conflict of Interest disclosures in connection with the content of the podcast will be provided with each episode.


The purpose of each podcast is to educate and to inform. The podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of individual conditions. Guests who speak in a podcast express their own opinions, experience, and conclusions. Neither American Society of Clinical Oncology nor any of its affiliates endorses, supports, or opposes any particular treatment option or other matter discussed in a podcast. The mention of any product, service, organization, activity, or therapy on a podcast should not be construed as an ASCO endorsement.

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Aug 19, 2021

Dr. Hayes interviews Dr. Sarah Donaldson and her pioneering work in pediatric radiation oncology.



SPEAKER 1: The purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. This is not a substitute for professional medical care and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of individual conditions. Guests on this podcast express their own opinions, experience, and conclusions. The mention of any product, service, organization, activity, or therapy should not be construed as an ASCO endorsement.


DANIEL HAYES: Welcome to JCO'S Cancer Stories: The Art of Oncology, brought to you by the ASCO Podcast Network, a collection of nine programs covering a range of educational and scientific content and offering enriching insights into the world of cancer care. You can find all of these shows, including this one, at

Today my guest on this podcast is Dr. Sarah Donaldson. Dr. Donaldson has really been instrumental in much of the development of both, in my opinion, modern radiation oncology and especially related to pediatric radiation oncology. Dr. Donaldson was raised in Portland, Oregon. She received an initial undergraduate and nursing degree at the University of Oregon in Eugene and ultimately in Portland.

After a few years working as a nurse with Dr. William Fletcher, who I hope we'll get a chance to talk about later, she elected to go to medical school and spend her first two years at Dartmouth and then finished with an MD from Harvard. She was planning to do a surgery residency at the Brigham Women's in Boston but then elected to do an internal medicine internship at the University of Washington and ultimately then a residency in radiation oncology at Stanford. After a residency and a few side trips along the way, she joined the faculty at Stanford and has remained there since.

Dr. Donaldson has authored nearly 300 peer-reviewed papers, probably more than that by now. That was when I last looked at her CV a couple of weeks ago, and it seems like she brings them out every week. She has served as president of the American Board of Radiology, the Radiology Society of North America, and the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology, ASCO's sister organization, of course-- ASTRO. And she also served on the board of ASCO, the board of directors, from 1994 to 1997 and, in my opinion, perhaps as importantly, on the board of directors of the ASCO Foundation for over a decade.

She has way too many honors for me to lay out here, but a few that caught my eye. Named after a distinguished scientist in the past, the Marie Curie award for the American Association of Women Radiologists, the Janeway Award from the American Radiation Society, and the Henry Kaplan Award for Teaching from Stanford. And she was the inaugural recipient of the Women Who Conquer Cancer Award from our own Foundation, the Conquer Cancer Foundation. Dr. Donaldson, welcome to our program.

SARAH DONALDSON: Thanks so much, Dan. It's a privilege to be talking with you today.

DANIEL HAYES: I hope I got all that right. It's pretty tough to cram the distinguished career you've had into about a minute. [LAUGHS] Anyway, I'm going to start out. So I've interviewed a lot of the luminaries and the people who really started our fields or even the subfield within our field, and you yourself had quite a journey. I know you started out as a nurse. Can you just give us some background about going to nursing school and then who and what influenced your decision to become a physician?

SARAH DONALDSON: Yes, I did. I can, Dan, and it's an interesting story. Because when I grew up, girls that wanted to go on to college-- and it wasn't all girls didn't go to college, but I did. The three areas that one could do in that era were become a teacher or maybe a librarian or a nurse. And so I elected to become a nurse, and I went to nursing school.

And I loved nursing school. I had a terrific time in nursing school, and along the line, I met the house officers and such and ultimately got to know a surgical oncologist. That was before surgical oncology was a field, but a young man from the Boston City Hospital training program, which was a very good surgical training program at the time, who was recruited to the University of Oregon to start a cancer program.

His name was Bill Fletcher-- William S. Fletcher. And when I graduated from nursing school, Bill Fletcher was looking for a right arm assistant. He was looking for somebody to help him develop a cancer program. And he offered me a job, and the job was to work with him in the operating room, either scrubbing or circulating, to run his tumor board-- and that meant just scheduling it and taking notes and such-- and working with him in his tumor clinic.

And in the tumor clinic, he was at that time beginning clinical trials, and Oregon was part of something that was called the Western Cancer Chemotherapy Group, which ultimately merged with SWOG. But at that time, his helper-- me-- filled out the forms, and we sent them to patients that were entered onto the study and got consents and measured lesions and that sort of thing. And I worked hand in hand with him. In addition to working with him in those clinical parameters, he gave me a little laboratory project, and so I worked with him in the lab and learned a little bit about small animal oncologic research, et cetera.

And after a couple of years working with him, he suggested that I would be a better employee if I took some additional courses, and he suggested that maybe I should take physics because at that time he was doing isolation perfusion. I was running his pump oxygenator. He asked me what I would do if there was a pump failure. I didn't know. And he said, well, I think it would be good if you took physics.

Well, the prerequisite to physics was organic. I hadn't had organic, and he was also working with radioisotopes in the lab. And he said, you could really be more helpful to me if you could work in the lab. That meant I had to take organic, and the prerequisite to organic was inorganic. To make a long story short, I took these series of classes in night school while I was working for Dr. Fletcher in the daytime.

And then one night, I was working on my hamster project, and he said, I think you should go to medical school. I said, I can't go to medical school. And the long and the short of it was Dr. Fletcher thought I should go to medical school, and he made that possible for me. It's a very, very interesting story, but what it means is that I was mentored by somebody who was a visionary, and he could see a lot more than I could see.

And he got me excited about medical school and everything that I knew about medical school is what he had taught me, so I of course wanted to be a cancer surgeon. And then after I went to medical school and I went to the same medical school he did, I just followed his advice. Every time I needed some guidance along the way, I asked Dr. Fletcher what I should do, and he told me what I should do, and I applied. And that's what I did.

And so when I came time to choosing a specialty, I decided I would train in surgery, and I applied at the Brigham and was accepted into their surgical program. It was run by Francis Moore at the time. And that was a big deal because they hadn't had women in their surgical field, and I was very excited about all of that but feeling totally inadequate because I didn't think I knew enough medicine. And so I went to Dr. Moore and said, I think I'd be a better house officer if I knew some medicine. He says, OK, well, go take a medical internship, and we'll hold you a spot.

So I went to the University of Washington and took general medicine, which was a very vibrant program, a really exciting program, and I just came alive in my internship. I loved everything about it. And then I decided I wanted to be an internist. So at this point, I was offered a position in Washington, and I had already accepted Dr. Moore in Boston.

And I didn't know what to do, and I asked Dr. Fletcher what I should do. And he said, Sarah, the world of-- he called it radiotherapy at the time, but what we would call radiation oncology-- needs more surgically oriented physicians. I think you should go down and talk to my friends at Stanford.

So I came down to Stanford. I met Henry Kaplan and Malcolm Bagshaw and the leaderships in the department, and including Saul Rosenberg, who was one of the people who interviewed me, and I left that day visiting at Stanford making a commitment that I would come to Stanford as a radiation oncologist. So I wanted to do everything, and I met some very inspiring people along the way, perhaps like you have in your own career.

And it's for that reason that I am now excited about mentoring because it's a little bit of payback because somebody opened the door for me and made it possible for me to have a most gratifying professional career, and I would like to do that for as many people as I could.

DANIEL HAYES: I love that story. And there were two things about it that came out. One is I normally don't like people who namedrop, but when you can namedrop the names you just dropped-- Bill Fletcher, who I consider really one of the early surgical oncologists, Henry Kaplan, Saul Rosenberg, Franny Moore. I was in Boston of 15 years, and he was a legend. He was not the chair anymore by any means. In fact, he passed away. But it was legendary. You should be doing these interviews instead of me. [LAUGHS] You've been there.

SARAH DONALDSON: Well, it's all about where you are at the time you are and meeting the right people. I think so much of my gratifying career is just because I happened to be at the right place at the right time and met the right people.

DANIEL HAYES: Well, the other thing I want to say is I always believed I don't trust people I interview who say they know exactly what they want to do. And the reason I say it that way is I have a young woman who's been a technician in my lab that just got into med school, and she sat with me and said, now, when I go there, should I tell them I know exactly what I want to do? Because she's interested in the oncology. Or should I go through my rotations and see what I like?

And I said, I forbid you from going there knowing what you want to do. Go to your rotation. See what you like. You're going to run into somebody who just inspires you beyond words who-- I don't know-- maybe selling shoes. But whatever it is, become like her, and you'll be extraordinarily successful.

So if there are young people listening to this, I think that your story, Dr. Donaldson, is a classic for that, the way you kicked around. And actually, you didn't tell us, but I'm going to have you tell us about your trip to Paris and that experience too and how that influenced you.

SARAH DONALDSON: Oh, that was another wonderful opportunity. When I finished my training, it was 1972, and that's when America was in the Vietnam War. All of my classmates were being recruited to a mandatory draft and were having to go to Vietnam, and I felt like I too should be just like all of my best friends and I too should join the military and go to Vietnam.

But that wasn't possible. Women couldn't do that. So I looked for things that I could do where I could do something useful, and I thought about joining the ship Hope and all sorts of fanciful things, but basically I was lost, and I didn't know what I wanted to do. And at that time, there wasn't a carve-out of pediatric oncology as a specialty. It hadn't been defined, but there were people that were doing pediatrics.

And as a resident, I had had a little rotation at the M.D. Anderson, and when I was in medical school, I had spent a fair amount of time at the Boston Children's, so I kind of knew a little bit about those institutions. But the thing was at Stanford, I knew that I wanted to be at Stanford. But Stanford didn't have a cancer program either.

And so again, I went to Henry Kaplan and Malcolm Bagshaw-- at that point, Kaplan was head of the department, and Malcolm was his associate director. But they changed positions about a year after that. So I trained under both of them, really, but I went to Dr. Kaplan and said, I'm interested in pediatrics. And I said that because we didn't have a program at Stanford and that was like a carve out that nobody had addressed yet.

And he said, oh, well, if you want to study pediatric cancer, you have to go to the Institute Gustavo Roussy and train under Odile Schweisguth. And I said, no, I don't speak French. I can't do that. I'd like to go to London because I like the theater. And he said, no, no, no, no, no, that's not the way it is. If you want to be a pediatric doctor, you have to go learn pediatrics and learn to think like a pediatrician, and that means you have to go and train under Odile Schweisguth.

She was at the Grand Dame of pediatric oncology. She took care of all the children in Western Europe. And so I went to Institute Gustavo Roussy to be a fellow in pediatric oncology, although I did spend some time on the radiotherapy unit as well. But that's where I learned pediatric cancer because I learned from Odile.

And in French, there's a formal and an informal, and I never understood the formal because when you talk to kids, you talk in the familiar form. So I was just talking to and not [SPEAKING FRENCH]. I would just say, [SPEAKING FRENCH] and such. [INAUDIBLE] French. And that's how I learned French. More importantly, I learned the biology of cancer from Odile. It was largely observational. And I learned a lot of late effects of children who were cancer survivors.

So when I came back to Stanford, at that time Mal Bagshaw was chair, and he said, well, why don't you work on starting a cancer program? We'd like to have a cancer program. So I worked with the pediatric cancer doctor at Stanford. His name was Dan Wilber, and he had just come from the M.D. Anderson. And the two of us started a cancer program at Stanford.

And so I've been kind of doing that ever since, of doing pediatric cancer. So I would say my skill set came along just because the right people told me where to go at the right time.

DANIEL HAYES: Were the pediatricians welcoming, or did they resent the fact that you'd never been a pediatrician?

SARAH DONALDSON: Malcolm Bagshaw gave me the clue to that by saying the only way the pediatricians will accept you is by having them accept you is one of their own. So you have to learn to think like a pediatrician, and then they will accept you onto their team as one of theirs because pediatric doctors are very possessive about their patients, and pediatric cancer doctors are possessive about their patients. So it worked for me.

But it worked because I had had this special training under Odile Schweisguth, who was a general pediatrician, and so I was accepted because I was at that point thinking like Odile thought because that's what she taught me how to do. So I always felt like I was accepted by the pediatric cancer doctors who then became the pediatric oncologists because that field didn't really open up for a couple of years later.

DANIEL HAYES: For our listeners, Dr. Donaldson and I have not met before, and I certainly have never worked with her. But she's talking, she's glossed over that when you work with the French, you really have to speak French. When you work with the pediatricians, you really have to speak pediatrician. And you've managed to do both of those. I don't know anybody who's been that successful. I should take a sabbatical and come work with you. [LAUGHS]

SARAH DONALDSON: Well, I'll tell you, Dan, there was one wonderful thing that happened because shortly after I was working at Stanford doing pediatrics, our dean wanted to recruit some more people and buff up our pediatric cancer unit. And he recruited Michael Link, who had just come out of his training at the Dana Farber.

And so Michael and I started working together his first day as an assistant professor at Stanford, and pediatric oncology is a team sport. Pediatric radiation oncology is a team sport. And I had a wonderful teammate, Michael Link, with whom I worked very well, and we became very fast friends.

And we did pediatric lymphoma and sarcoma, bone sarcoma, and soft tissue sarcoma, and all sorts of stuff. And I had a wonderful, wonderful colleague working with Michael Link. So one of the keys to my most gratifying part of my career at Stanford has been working with Michael Link and his associates.

DANIEL HAYES: As an aside, by the way, Michael and I overlapped just a little bit at Harvard, but then he proceeded me as president of ASCO by two years, and we got to be pretty close friends during that period of time. And I echo your fondness for him. He's just an amazing human being, as far as I was concerned. And he's one of the-- he may be-- I'm trying to think, has there other pediatricians that have been president of ASCO? I'm not--

SARAH DONALDSON: No, he was the first. Yeah, he's the only one to date.

DANIEL HAYES: Yeah. And he left a big stamp on the society in terms of-- we always had some pediatrics involved-- you, especially-- during the years, but as president, he was able to leave a big footprint of what we do. So he was terrific.

I'd also like you to talk a little bit about the early days of the co-operative groups. You threw out that you were in the Western Group that became part of SWOG, and what were the hurdles and obstacles to getting all these folks to work together? And what do you see the pros and cons of the cooperative groups in the country?

SARAH DONALDSON: I know the cooperative groups mainly through the lens of the pediatric cooperative groups. I mean, I can tell you about the adult ones, but I really know the pediatric ones. And at the beginning, there was one, and then there were two. And we worked competitively, and then ultimately the pediatric doctors learned early on that the children they took care of had rare tumors, and no one physician had a whole lot of experience with any cancer.

For example, this tells the story well. When Hal Maurer was chairman of Pediatrics at Virginia, he had a child with rhabdomyosarcoma. And he called his friend Ruth Hein, who was at Michigan, and said, Ruth, I've got this child with rhabdomyosarcoma. Have you ever treated a child like this? And Ruth said, oh, I had one patient, but I think you should call Teresa because Teresa, I think, had a patient.

And so Teresa Vietti was at Washington University, and so Hal Maurer and Teresa Vietti and Ruth Hein and a few other really, really pioneers started to throw their lot together and decided that the way they could answer a question about these rare tumors is by deciding what was the question of the day and working collaboratively.

And then Hal Maurer became the first chair of what was then called the Innergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study, which has now been merged into the other pediatric groups. But that same process that worked for rhabdomyosarcoma was then employed for Wilms tumor, and then subsequently down the line, brain tumors and all the other solid tumors. And of course, St. Jude was doing this with their leukemia studies and Dan Finkel, and then Joe Simone did it with leukemia.

They got everybody to join in on their team, decide together around the table by consensus what is the question that we want to have an answer for, and then just treat all the patients in a consecutive fashion, analyze those, and then take that step and go on and build to the next step. That's how the pediatricians have done it because their cancers are so rare that one person doesn't have very much experience. They have to throw their lot together and work collaboratively. So they don't work competitively. They work collaboratively.

DANIEL HAYES: This is very similar to the stories I of course heard from Drs. Frei and Holland that they came ultimately to CALGB to be after a couple of mis-starts. But it's one of the things I worry about COVID. It's not the same Zooming with somebody or talking on the phone as it is sitting around dinner and just saying, maybe we could do this and make it work.

So I'm hoping young people are listening to this and saying, OK, maybe we can start something new that a bunch of us work together and get things done. That's a really great story. You were early on and ended up taking both diagnostic and therapeutic radiology boards, correct? When they were combined?

SARAH DONALDSON: No, no I didn't. Radiology was combined at that time, but Stanford was one of the few institutions that had a carve-out for radiation oncology without diagnostic training, and I wasn't in the first class. I was in the fourth or fifth class, so my formal training was only in what was called radiation therapy, now called radiation oncology.

So it was one department, and I worked collaboratively with a diagnostic radiologist because I knew nothing about image interpretation-- nothing at all. So I'd see an X-ray. I didn't know how to interpret it, and I'd have to go and ask for some help. But they were like our best friends. But the diagnostic people could take the picture, but the therapists had access to the patients.

So that made all the difference in the world because we really had access to the material, the clinical material or the blood or the bone marrow or the biopsy specimens or whatever it was, and allowed us to do studies. But to clarify, no, I was not. I do not have formal training in diagnostic radiology, although I have worked with them so closely now that I feel like they're all my brothers because you cannot do radiation oncology without collaborating closely with the imagers.

DANIEL HAYES: And my first interview was with Sam Helman. This has been three or four years ago. And he was still lamenting the split because he thought it was to learn both-- and for the reasons you just said. If you don't know where it is to shoot your bean, you can't shoot your bean. That's not exactly what he said but something like that.

On our side, they team hematology and oncology. Like you, I never got trained in hematology. I only trained in solid tumor oncology, which has not hurt me in any way. In fact, in many respects, I focus my efforts on things I seem to know about and let somebody else worry about blood clotting.

Of all the things you're well known for-- and again, it was hard for me to get it all into a minute or two, but probably teaching and mentoring. And in this conversation, I see why. Tell me how you think that's evolved in your field, especially in radiation oncology, teaching and mentoring, and the importance of the things you've done-- and perhaps some of the people you have trained yourself and you're proud of.

SARAH DONALDSON: Well, when I think of all the things that I love about my professional career, I love taking care of patients. And I've had very joyous experiences of watching pediatric cancer patients grow up and watching them in their process and treating them when they're toddlers and then getting invitations to graduations and wedding invitations and baby announcements and following through that. That's very, very gratifying.

But the single most important and most gratifying part of what I do is the volumetric feedback and gratification from training residents because one patient is one patient, but one trainee then goes into academic medicine and that person has 30 or 300 or 3,000 trainees. And you see your impact is just explosive.

And Stanford has had a training program in radiation oncology from the very, very beginning. It was one of the first programs that did train in radiation oncology, so a lot of talented people have come through Stanford. They need to have what Bill Fletcher did for me, which was open doors and help them with networking and giving them an opportunity and giving them some guidance and being their new best friend.

When your trainees trust you like that, then you can really, really have a relationship, and you can really help them. And so I am very, very, very proud of our trainees that are now all over the place as cancer center directors or directors of departments or divisions that are doing what they're doing. You just meet the best of the best. That is the most gratifying part of-- maybe it's because that's what I'm doing now, but it's the most gratifying part of medicine that I've experienced.

DANIEL HAYES: This is the third time I've said this on this call-- I hope there are young people listening, and I hope they're looking for a mentor and they can find someone as generous and trusting and helpful as you have been.

SARAH DONALDSON: Dan, let me just say one little thing.


SARAH DONALDSON: It was extremely helpful to me-- and wonderful recognition for ASCO-- to provide the opportunity that I received the Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentoring Award. Because when I won that award, I was the inaugural-- but when I won that, all of a sudden people thought that I knew something about mentoring. I'm not certain I did know anything about mentoring, but I was asked to talk about it and asked to give advice, et cetera.

And it gave me a carve out that was quite novel at the time, and now, of course, it's a mandated requirement in every training program, et cetera, but it wasn't then. And for me, it was just to return what Bill Fletcher did for me. The only way I can say is that it's a pay out, and it's so gratifying. It just makes you happy to get out of bed every morning and interact with the people you do interact with.

DANIEL HAYES: He was pretty young when he began to mentor you. And I think having seen and been mentored and mentored other people, I always worry about a young person trying to mentor because you've got your own career to worry about, and it's hard not to be selfish when you're building a career in academics. He must have been a remarkable-- is he still active? Is he still around? He must have been a remarkable guy.

SARAH DONALDSON: He was a remarkable guy, and no, he passed away. But that was true. And that is true because junior faculty are busy making their own professional career, and they don't have time. They're busy on their own path, and it's a hard path to go on. So most junior faculty don't really have very much time to do formal mentoring.

But in Bill Fletcher's case, we worked hand in hand as sort of partners. And so I think, in some ways, I was helpful to him because I could do literature searches for him. I could write the first draft of his paper. I could write the first draft of his grant. I filled out the forms. I did a lot of things that were labor saving for him, but for me, what was he doing for me? He was teaching me to suture. He was teaching me how to resect normal [INAUDIBLE]. He was teaching me lymph node drainage from cancers. He was teaching me about drug metabolism, methotrexate, and phenylalanine mustard. And 5-FU was an experimental agent. So was vincristine-- those kinds of things. So I learned a lot from him just in the ordinary practice of taking care of the patients.

DANIEL HAYES: By the way, two stories I read about you-- one is how you met Henry Kaplan, and the second is the first paper you wrote with him. Can you give us those two? And then I think we've got to sign off.

SARAH DONALDSON: Well, let me tell you about the first paper I wrote with him because the other one is too funny. Everybody will laugh at me. The first paper I wrote with Henry Kaplan, I worked really, really hard on it. It had to do with bacterial infections in patients with Hodgkin's disease because we were doing splenectomies on everybody, and they were getting pneumococcal bacteremias and meningitis. And I was running the ward at that time. I was taking care of a lot of patients that were sick.

So I was writing up this experience. And I wrote what I thought was the perfect paper because, see, Kaplan had a high bar, and you didn't want to disappoint him. So I wrote the paper that I thought was perfection. I had gone through a lot of drafts. And I gave it to him, and he returned it to me the next day.

He read it that night. But I only looked at the first page because the first page looked like a blood bath. Everything he wrote, he wrote with a red pen. And there was red writing all over the first page. I couldn't see any white paper. It was all red comments.


SARAH DONALDSON: And I went through-- I don't know-- 24 different drafts of that paper finally being published. And so one of the things I try to do with residents now is to teach them, you have to have a hypothesis. You have to make certain you have a database. You have to have a long term follow up. You have to understand statistics, and you have to write a paper knowing what you're doing. You don't just start writing. You do a section and a section and you build it with evidence.

So I enjoy doing editing, and I think I can help some trainees focus their thinking in terms of writing a grant proposal or a manuscript that's worthwhile publishing. My introduction to Henry Kaplan-- there are many, many funny stories about them, but to end them all, I will have to say that he was very, very, very good to me. He provided a lot of opportunities and was a huge role model.

He taught by scarification. We were all scared to death of him, but he was absolutely a wonderful, wonderful huggable person, if you felt like you could hug him. We didn't do that very often. We might have hugged Saul Rosenberg, but we didn't hug Henry Kaplan. But they were both helpful to me, especially in understanding lymphomas.

DANIEL HAYES: For those of you listening who don't know who Henry Kaplan was, I think it's fair to say he was one of the first people to prove you could cure Hodgkin's disease with radiation. Do you agree? Is that a fair statement?

SARAH DONALDSON: Yes, that's where his name came. But of course, what Kaplan did was he recruited Saul Rosenberg, and the two of those worked hand in hand, and they brought to Stanford what we call the Lymphoma Staging Conference, which was a combined modality conference where we talked together over each patient. And together, they wrote clinical trials that were institution-based clinical trials.

So what Kaplan did was he did a lot of technical work with the linear accelerator, but that was just a tool. My way of thinking is his most important contribution was the importance of combined modality therapy and understanding what your colleagues can contribute and what you can contribute in doing it as a team.

DANIEL HAYES: And I will encourage anyone who's listening to this to go back to the website and listen to my interview with Dr. Rosenberg who laid that out in spades. And the first few patients he treated, he had a chair outside his exam room. He would examine the patient, take them out, put them in the chair, start the IV himself, go mix the chemotherapy, hang it up, and then see the next patient in the room while the first patient was getting chemotherapy. It's a little different now. [LAUGHS]

Anyway, thank you so much. By the way, I have a copy of Dr. Kaplan's book on Hodgkin's disease, which was the Bible when we were training. You can't see it because it's on my bookshelf behind my camera, but I still open it up quite a while, even for a breast cancer guy. It was a classic. I also want to say, it's very clear to me you're a nurse at heart. You've been a fabulous physician and researcher and mentor, but your love for people shines through, so congratulations. I think that's terrific.

SARAH DONALDSON: Thank you so much.

DANIEL HAYES: Thanks for taking your time to speak with me today. I'm sure people are going to be thrilled to listen to this, and thanks for all you've done to feel. It's just really remarkable-- and what you've done for ASCO and the Foundation, which is a big, big, payback. Thanks for everything.


DANIEL HAYES: Until next time, thank you for listening to this JCO's Cancer Stories: The Art of Oncology Podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, don't forget to give us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. While you're there, be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. JCO's Cancer Stories: The Art of Oncology Podcast is just one of ASCO's many podcasts. You can find all the shows at