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Why We Volunteer

Denanna van Gestel and Amy Peterson

 Deanna B. van Gestel and Amy Peterson serve on Conquer Cancer's Board of Directors. 

"It is not over, the end is not in sight, and every day someone dies. The consequences of cancer can be brutal, and that is both motivating and devastating."  - Dr. Amy Peterson

To mark International Volunteer Day on December 5, we asked Conquer Cancer Board Members what inspires them to share their time with us. Dr. Amy Peterson and Ms. Deanna B. van Gestel reflect on why serving others matters and what notable conqueror they wish would join us in advancing our mission.

What inspires you to serve on the Conquer Cancer board?

AP:  I believe that if you think big, you will accomplish big things. Cancer is one of the biggest challenges we might ever face, and it impacts everyone. What this foundation does for those who struggle every day to make a difference in their fight against cancer is truly incredible. I could not think of a better way to be a part of the solution. 

DvG: I am inspired by my passion for working in oncology, the research driving innovation in developing new drugs for patients, and of course the patients!


What has been the greatest reward for the time you’ve volunteered?

AP: The learnings I have taken away from my sage, diverse, and warm-hearted colleagues have made me a better person, a smarter donor, and I see how that will pay forward forever. 

DvG: The ability to make an impact on others.


What’s the most challenging part of working to conquer cancer?

AP: It is not over, the end is not in sight, and every day someone dies. The consequences of cancer can be brutal, and that is both motivating and devastating.

DvG: Time. Taking aspirations and making them real.  


What’s one thing you’d like to do at Conquer Cancer you’ve not been able to do yet?

AP: Identify a way to get more support from the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors. 

DvG: Lead a new effort to scale donor contributions.

What has serving others taught you?

AP: It is through serving that we learn to be great leaders, leaders who can inspire people, communities, corporations to accomplish things beyond the individual. A colleague recently sent me this quote which resonated so thoroughly with me: "If serving is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you."

DvG: Living a life with purpose towards helping others is what fulfills me and brings me happiness.

How do you inspire others to give of their time/talents/resources?  

AP: For me and my efforts, it starts with a question: How can you be a part of the solution? I don’t know a single person who has not been affected by cancer, I don’t know a single person who would not want to see cancer eradicated, so I don’t really have to be that inspiring, the mission we have at Conquer Cancer is the inspiration everyone needs.

DvG: I am not inspiring, but I do try to lead by example.

What famous conqueror/superhero/superhuman (real or fictional) would you invite to volunteer at Conquer Cancer?

AP: Greta Thunberg: she is fearless and relentless, her faith is her superpower.

DvG: Tony Stark for philanthropy and innovation, Black Panther for diversity and technology and healing.