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Oncologist is named Advocacy Champion

  • Category: Awards & Recognitions
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial Marketing Director
Oncologist is named Advocacy Champion

Dr. Banu Symington advocates for cancer patients

Dr. Banu Symington was named an Advocacy Champion by the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) during this week’s Association’s 2024 Advocacy Summit.

Symington, a hematologist/oncologist at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County’s Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center, said she is proud to advocate on behalf of cancer patients.

“I guess advocacy for underserved patients is in my blood,” Symington said. “I cannot help but speak up and, where possible, back my words with actions. I will go to the mat for them – prior authorization, advocating for universal coverage, for rural access to clinical trials, against infusions in less safe and convenient settings, and more. Many of the issues that I, the MHSC financial department, the patient financial navigators, the billers, and others deal with would become unnecessary if everyone had access to health care coverage. And, most of all, our patients would do better.”

Advocacy Champions are ASCO volunteers who have made meaningful contributions to ASCO’s advocacy activities throughout the year to ensure that every patient with cancer has access to high-quality, high-value cancer care, no matter who they are or where they live. Advocates speak with federal lawmakers and agencies, send personalized letters to Members of Congress through ASCO’s ACT Network, engage with state lawmakers on policy priorities at the state-level, and host site visits for lawmakers in their home states and districts.

“ASCO’s Advocacy Champions are instrumental in making lasting policy changes that positively impact cancer care and research,” said Piyush Srivastava, MD, FASCO, chair of ASCO’s Government Relations Committee. “They have worked tirelessly this year to advance policy that would end drug shortages, provide robust federal funding for cancer research, and expand telehealth flexibilities permanently. Their efforts will affect cancer care providers, researchers, and patients for years to come.”

Symington, the Cancer Center’s medical director, also recently accepted an invitation to serve as a member of the Government Relations Committee for the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Association for Clinical Oncology.

Symington worked for MHSC as an internist and hematologist/oncologist from 1995 to 2004. She returned to the Cancer Center in 2018 and now also serves as its medical director.