The COVID-19 pandemic presented huge challenges for people living with cancer. From delayed screenings to higher rates of advanced diagnosis to elevated risks for immunocompromised patients, this pandemic has forced people living with cancer and the health care workers who care for them to make difficult, life-changing decisions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, hear from patients, doctors and advocates about the impact of the novel coronavirus on cancer and the path forward as the nation continues to navigate its way out of the pandemic.


The president of Howard University said the success of mRNA vaccines at targeting specific infectious agents points to a ‘new eve of exploration’ of how similar treatments could combat cancer. “Messenger RNA vaccines have demonstrated that we can fine tune the body’s immune system very precisely to attack the particular antigen or infectious agent… I think this really opens up a whole new eve of exploration that I think can really result in many treatments coming forward in the arena of cancer.” (Washington Post Live)
The Howard University president and surgeon said his hospital delayed major cancer surgeries during the pandemic because of the volume of hospitalized COVID patients. “If large numbers of people who aren’t vaccinated get sick, it does stress the hospital system… During the pandemic, for long periods of time our hospitals decided to delay surgeries. So I had couple of major cancer operations to do that we waited some six to eight weeks to. Now, I’m hopeful that those patients will still have a very good outcome, but there’s not predicting what that delay could lead to." (Washington Post Live)
The Howard University president and surgeon said COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on African Americans could cause health issues in the community to “really deteriorate” over the next five to ten years. “If you look at the life expectancy of a white male in America to an African American male, it’s the widest gap… During this pandemic, it appears… this gap may actually widen because of the disproportionate impact that covid had… Over the next five to ten years, the outcomes for African Americans in particular with respect to health issues could really deteriorate.” (Washington Post Live)
The Associated Press journalist and cancer awareness advocate said she’s sharing her journey on social media to encourage other women that have lingering questions after cancer diagnoses to speak up, ask questions, and become their own advocate.. “The biggest thing I want in any of this is to perhaps inspire that next woman who thinks that there’s really something funny going on, to ask that next question a little bit earlier and hopefully she won’t end up on the same path that I have.” (Washington Post Live)

Wayne A.I. Frederick, MD

Provided by Howard University.

Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick was appointed the seventeenth president of Howard University in 2014. He previously served as provost and chief academic officer. Most recently, the Howard University Board of Trustees selected Dr. Frederick to serve as the distinguished Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery.

Dr. Frederick has advanced Howard University's commitment to student opportunity, academic innovation, public service, and fiscal stability. He has overseen a series of reform efforts, including the expansion of academic offerings, establishing innovative programs to support student success and the modernization of university facilities.

Dr. Frederick received his B.S and M.D. from Howard University. Following his post-doctoral research and surgical oncology fellowships at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Frederick began his academic career as associate director of the cancer center at the University of Connecticut. Upon his return to Howard University, his academic positions included associate dean in the College of Medicine, division chief in the Department of Surgery, director of the Cancer Center and deputy provost for Health Sciences. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business in 2011.

Dr. Frederick is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts, and editorials and is a widely recognized expert on disparities in healthcare and medical education. His medical research focuses on narrowing racial, ethnic and gender disparities in cancer-care outcomes, especially pertaining to gastrointestinal cancers.

Dr. Frederick was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Humana Inc. He is a member of surgical and medical associations including the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons.

In 2017, he was named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine and in 2015 was named “Male President of the Year” by HBCU Digest.

Meg Kinnard

Meg Kinnard is a politics reporter for The Associated Press. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, she graduated from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with a degree in International Security Studies. During three years at National Journal, she covered campaign advertising and reported on-site from the 2004 Democratic and Republican conventions. In 2005, Meg came to work with AP and moved to South Carolina, from which she has covered four presidential cycles and dozens of White House hopefuls in the rough-and-tumble, first-in-the-South primary state. Earlier this year, she received her Master’s in Digital Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doing thesis research about social media’s impact on perceptions of objectivity in journalism. Diagnosed earlier this year with Stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, Meg - a married mother of three active children - has moved temporarily to Houston for treatment at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Insisting on returning to work soon after surgery, Meg is reporting from Houston, while also using her public platform to encourage women to take preventive health measures, seek second opinions, and to always self-advocate if they doubt a diagnosis or course of treatment.

Content from AstraZeneca

The following content is produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom is not involved in the production of this content.

(Washington Post Live)

Redefining the Future of Cancer Care

Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a period of seismic disruption across the cancer community that risks leaving too many people behind in its wake. This segment will examine the ways in which the pandemic has reshaped cancer care, and how advocacy organizations are working alongside the community to reimagine the future of care with an eye toward overcoming barriers to screening and ensuring equitable access to quality care for all who stand to benefit.

Andrea Ferris

Andrea is President and CEO of LUNGevity and a member of the Board of Directors. In her role as President and CEO of LUNGevity, Andrea is responsible for setting and executing the strategic direction of the organization and its science programs.

Andrea came to LUNGevity through the merger with Protect Your Lungs, an organization she and her family started to fund lung cancer research following her mother’s death from lung cancer in 2008.

Before the merger, Andrea founded and built Protect Your Lungs, an organization dedicated to funding research into the early detection of lung cancer. Andrea was instrumental in building PYL’s Scientific Advisory Board and establishing its funding process, both of which followed her to the new LUNGevity organization.

In her for-profit career, Andrea has a wealth of management experience. Andrea was the Vice President of Strategy and Growth of Decision Lens, Inc. a company she helped launch in January 2005. Prior to joining Decision Lens, Andrea held a variety of management positions at Johnson & Johnson, including Director of Investor Relations, Manager Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions, and Plant Controller. She also spent several years at McNeil Consumer Products, a J&J subsidiary, in marketing and mergers & acquisitions. Prior to her time at J&J, Andrea worked for Lehman Brothers and Coopers & Lybrand in New York City in both Mergers and Acquisitions and as a CPA.

Andrea received her BS in Economics from Wharton with concentrations in Accounting, Decision Sciences, and Finance. She received her MBA from Wharton with concentrations in Finance and Latin American Studies. She served on Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center National Committee of Performing Arts and on the Board of ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) of Metro DC. She has also served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for DC Metro Boys and Girls Club and has worked with the Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Moderated by Omar Perez

Omar Perez is the Head of Medical Diagnostics, US Medical Affairs Oncology at AstraZeneca. Dr. Perez has over 17 years designing, deploying, and leading high-visibility oncology initiatives supporting global companion diagnostic developments, strategic partnerships and commercialization opportunities.

Before joining AstraZeneca, he oversaw the global CDx developments for the GSK oncology portfolio, leading to diagnostic products for niraparib and dostarlimab. During his time at Pfizer, he led global CDx activities supporting the drug approvals of crizotinib, lorlatinib, dacomitinib talazoparib and inotuzomab. Notably, he led the first FDA approved NGS product for multiple targeted agents and helped establish the Center for Precision Medicine in LATAM to support Pfizer oncology products.

Dr. Perez’s background includes roles in biotech and diagnostic companies, including co-founding Nodality, a diagnostic company focused on hematological malignancies. He is an inventor of the multiparametric phospho-proteomic flow technologies and an author of 37 publications and 35 patents.

Dr. Perez received his doctorate in Molecular Pharmacology from Stanford University. He holds a B.A in both Molecular Biology and Philosophy and Chemistry degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He received an executive education certificate in management and leadership at the MIT Sloan School of Management and has a Regulatory Affairs Certification.