Vermonters pride themselves at embracing, some would say originating, the locavore movement. Locally grown meats, cheeses, vegetables, clothes etc. all take center stage. We support local enterprises and avoid, to the degree we can, out of state businesses. In the midst of the pandemic, many locally owned businesses reported that they were able to survive because Vermonters turned out in droves to support them.
As Chair of the University of Vermont Cancer Center Community Advisory Board, and, as a cancer survivor who credits my survival to local doctors and caregivers, I’m grateful that we have the absolute best in cancer care here in our backyard. ‘On the Hill’ in Burlington, we have some of the finest cancer researchers, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, hematologists etc. in the United States. Our local scientists and medical professionals participate in top national clinical trials ensuring that the newest treatments and innovations are available. I owe the fact that I can still taste, produce saliva and enjoy red wine to the cutting-edge strategies developed by my treatment team. The UVM Cancer Center is a research partner with Cancer Centers in Boston, New York and all over the country. Our Cancer Center is recognized, along with other top-flight cancer centers, for contributing to the improvement of patient care. In fact, as I consulted, in search of ‘second opinions’, with some of the leading Cancer Centers out-of-state , I kept being asked why I would want to get treatment anywhere but at UVM. As one doctor said to me: if it was one of his family members who was sick, he’d want my local team treating them. That is high praise, but also something that many in our community might not realize, or take for granted.
I have two reasons for writing this letter. The first is to ensure that folks who are confronting a cancer diagnosis know that they can ‘stay local’ and receive the highest level of quality care. The second recognizes that we are entering the ‘giving season’. I am not so subtlety requesting that, when you are asked to financially support cancer research or cancer care programs outside of Vermont, you pause for a moment and consider keeping your philanthropy local. I believe you’d be making a wise choice in directing your donation to the UVM Cancer Center and help support those Vermonters who are working to keep you alive.