From Inspiration to Innovation: Mary Lasker and the Birth of the American Cancer Society

Write Medicine

From Inspiration to Innovation: Mary Lasker and the Birth of the American Cancer Society

November 8, 2023

From Inspiration to Innovation: Mary Lasker and the Birth of the American Cancer Society

If you work in CME, especially in oncology, then sooner or later you’re going to consult American Cancer Society resources. But how much do you know about the history of this organization? And how much do you know about Mary Lasker and her contributions to cancer research?

Hello, hello, and welcome back to Write Medicine, the podcast that explores best practices in creating continuing education content for health professionals. I’m your host, Alex Howson, and in today’s episode, we explore a story that shaped the field of medicine and cancer research in particular. My guest is Judy Pearson, an author, cancer survivor, and catalyst for change who shares her extensive research on Mary Lasker, a woman whose name may not be widely known, but whose impact on cancer research and treatment is immeasurable. 

We explore how Mary’s partnership with her husband Albert played a pivotal role in transforming the American Society for the Control of Cancer into what is now known as the American Cancer Society. Mary believed in the power of research and was determined to use her life, her money, and her social connections to make a difference and was dedicated to education, civic-mindedness, and relentlessly pursuing change, even when it meant challenging the status quo. 

So grab your pens and notebooks, as Judy Pearson takes us on a journey through the extraordinary life of Mary Lasker, a fascinating woman who shaped the world of medicine, right here on Write Medicine.

Time Stamps:

(3:25) – Introducing Judy

(6:58) – Exploring the life of Mary Lasker

(12:21) – Where Mary and Margaret Sanger’s crossed paths

(14:19) – The contributions of the Lasker’s

(17:03) – Mary’s belief in research

(27:34) – Judy’s writing and research process

(32:21) – When to stop going down the rabbit hole

(35:38) – Obstacles Mary faced and how she overcame them

Click Here for the Transcript


Judy Pearson. Crusade to Heal America: The Remarkable Life of Mary Lasker. 2023. [affiliate link]

Emma Donahue. <a href="The%20Pull%20of%20the%20Stars“>The Pull of the Stars: A Novel. 2020 [affiliate link]

About Judy

Judy Pearson is a writer and cancer survivor who discovered her passion for writing at the age of twelve. Sitting in a tree in her parents’ backyard, she began to express her preteen angst through words. Although she initially pursued a career as a French teacher, she later transitioned into advertising and marketing. Around 20 years ago, Judy started writing for publication, and her journey as a cancer survivor led her to explore the history of cancer treatment and health. Her latest book, Crusade to Heal America, focuses on the biography of the cancer survivorship movement, showcasing her dedication to raising awareness and understanding the heroines and heroes who have faced cancer. Writing has become Judy’s favorite activity, allowing her to share her personal experiences and make a significant impact on others’ lives. Her previous books include From Shadows to Life: A Biography of the Cancer Survivorship Movement (which won the 2022 Nautilus Gold Award), Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy, and Belly of the Beast: A POW’s Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival Aboard a WWII Hell Ship.

About Write Medicine

Hosted by Alexandra Howson PhD, CHCP

Produced by Golden Goose Creative

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