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April 19, 2021

Get to know our Medical Director Dr. Debra Wong

In Meet Our Experts

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Dr. Debra WongDr. Wong experienced early on that small gestures of kindness can make a big difference, and that helping people smile and have hope facilitates healing. To this day, she is committed to keeping the humanity in medicine.

By empathizing with others and taking time to explore their concerns, Dr. Wong contributes genuine kindness with deep expertise to the fight against cancer. At AccessHope, she effectively communicates with local oncologists and helps tailor their patients’ treatment paths while considering all of the possibilities and their needs to achieve better outcomes.

Inspired by Dr. Wong’s personal proclivities and professional viewpoints, we thought we’d get to know her a bit better—so we asked her a few questions:

Why did you decide to become a physician?

I wanted to give people who need medical care the knowledge and treatment they seek along with the kindness and respect they deserve. I also aspired to walk alongside them on their path of unwanted illness, guiding them and their families toward both physical and mental health and well-being. That road sometimes leads to a cure—but when it doesn’t, my goal is to help them experience more good days than bad, however they may define that.

Why did you decide to work for AccessHope?

I believe in AccessHope’s novel and innovative approach to improving access to quality and value-based cancer care. A unique opportunity exists here to share knowledge and insights across boundaries to optimize outcomes for people facing cancer, no matter where they live. 

What’s your favorite way that AccessHope has impacted the cancer community?

AccessHope brings people together, even when they’re spread across the country, strengthening the fabric of the cancer community. We directly connect people with cancer and their treating doctors to renowned cancer experts, specialists, and researchers, promoting direct communication and a more fluid cancer care system.

One of AccessHope's brand personality traits is rebellious because we're recreating the established notion that people need to physically go to a cancer center to get leading support. How do you feel, personally, that we rebelliously approach cancer?

We need to aggressively, quickly, and nimbly respond to cancer because that’s how the disease behaves. It doesn’t follow any standard path but constantly warps and adapts to overcome barriers in its environment. At AccessHope, we recognize the need to fight fire with fire—and we do so mindfully and deftly. Liberated from traditional approaches and free of geographic barriers, we’re better positioned to stay ahead of cancer, not chase it. That’s what people and their families deserve.

What are some common misconceptions of hospice and palliative medicine? How have these programs impacted the quality and value of healthcare delivery for patients?

A common misconception is that hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) is “a last resort,” akin to “throwing in the towel” or what doctors recommend when “there’s nothing else we can do.” On the contrary, HPM is intensive supportive care, where quality-of-life experts do absolutely all they can to provide personalized therapies that foster dignity and comfort.

HPM focuses on multidimensional care—of the body, mind, and spirit—helping people live better. HPM providers meticulously manage symptoms and offer psychosocial and emotional support, and scientific evidence shows that this kind of care can also help people live longer.

What’s your favorite quote or motto?

I actually have two. “Treat every living being, including yourself, with kindness, and the world will immediately be a better place,” from Timber Hawkeye; and “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” from Winston Churchill.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

Cooking and spending quality time with loved ones.

What movie, book, or podcast are you watching, reading, or listening to now?

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. 

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Probably the Lake District in England.

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Johns Hopkins Medicine joins AccessHope to extend nationwide access to cancer expertise

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