story mae

Dr Mae Dolendo

Paediatric Oncologist, Davao Medical Center, Philippines

Hi, Dr Mae! The St. Jude-VIVA Forum could not have been the success that it is today without your efforts over the past 10 years. Could you share with us some of the challenges that you and the team faced in the early years of organising the Forum?

Dr Mae: The start is always the most challenging. It was initially difficult to find the right people with the enthusiasm and commitment to help the (Asian) region improve its care for children with cancer. In the first Forum, our resources were stretched and everyone had to wear many hats and contribute in many areas. But with guidance, funding and the help of everyone, we managed to grow the Forum into what it is today – a meeting of doctors, nurses and support staff committed to continuing education and improving the care and survival of children with cancer in the region.

The Forum has seen active participation from around the region. What was your role and how much has the Forum grown these last 10 years?

Dr Mae: Being overseas, my main task was to help with the 2-day VIVA-Asia Pre-forum. We have grown from a small group of 20 to 30 to the 70 to 80 paediatricians, haematologists and oncologists from regional countries. We have come a long way from being just a 2-day conference. The Forum is now an umbrella of knowledge-sharing platforms and collaborative meetings. The growth was possible with funding and leadership from VIVA and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which allowed doctors from countries with limited resources to participate.

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I feel empowered with the necessary skills to forge on as a local leader in improving the care and outcome of childhood cancer in my country.

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How does the Forum impact its participants and, more broadly, help improve the care and treatment of children with cancer?

Dr Mae: The considerable improvements made over the years in the regional practice of paediatric oncology could not have been possible without the Forum. From the networks established in the scientific meetings and knowledge shared by international experts, the Forum provides participants various opportunities to learn and keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in childhood cancer. This is the main reason that attracts participants to return every year.

What does the future hold for the Forum, both in Singapore and in the region?

Dr Mae: The Forum will continue to serve as a beacon of hope, not only for children with cancer, but also for those taking care of them. For Asian doctors like us, the Forum is a pioneering effort that will serve as a cornerstone for progress in the regional practice of paediatric oncology. It still has a lot of frontiers to conquer, but I believe that we can definitely do so one step at a time in the right direction.​

How has the Forum impacted you in your role as a doctor helping children with cancer?

Dr Mae: I am now a better paediatric oncologist thanks to the learning opportunities provided at the Forum’s various platforms. More importantly, I feel empowered with the necessary skills to forge on as a local leader in improving the care and outcome of childhood cancer in my country