Q&A With Dr. Maryland Pao, Women of Influence Honoree

Dr. Pao Social MediaWe will celebrate our 7th Annual Women of Influence Awards Luncheon on Friday, May 10th in New York City at The Plaza’s Grand Ballroom. This exciting event honors extraordinary women who have pushed the boundaries by achieving outstanding goals in business, work, family, home, and health while inspiring women around the globe to live their dreams. Every year, we love to chat with our honorees in the weeks leading up to our Women Of Influence event about their advice for other women and their connection to health, wellness and cancer.

Today we are proud to feature a Q&A with Dr. Maryland Pao, who will be receiving the Dr. Jimmie Holland Pioneer Award on May 10th at The Plaza. 

  • What does it mean to you to be chosen as a Woman of Influence and receive the Dr. Jimmie Holland Pioneer Award by the T.J. Martell Foundation?

I am humbled by the honor. Jimmie was an incredibly special, one-of-a kind person. She believed and truly lived her belief that we must help one another, and we must leave the world a better place than we find it. She touched so many lives and helped people suffering with cancer and its treatments be heard. If I have through my work helping sick children be the best they can be, one tenth the impact she has had, I will feel fulfilled.

  • What piece of advice would you give to young women today to inspire them to follow their dreams?

You can make a difference. I believe in the power of one person – it’s how someone like Tony Martell, who had no experience as a fundraiser, can take a promise to his son to raise a million dollars for cancer research and 36 years later turn it into more than $280 million, or how someone like Jimmie Holland, from rural Texas, can start the field of psychosocial oncology, write the major textbook initiate two journals, found two societies and train people all over the world to help those in distress from cancer find resources and treatments. Be engaged.

  • What steps do you take to make health and wellness a priority in your life?

First, there is no health without mental health. Health and wellness are daily practices. Every day I enjoy my family, walk my dog, practice gratitude and reflection, eat well (especially chocolate), laugh, try to get enough sleep and think about fun places to go with friends and family. If you’re lucky, finding meaningful work through helping others is part of staying healthy and well.

  • If you are comfortable, please share one way in which your life has been affected by cancer.

My father died of colon cancer at 59 in 1981 when my brother was 13 and I was 18. It took a village to raise and support us and so many people stepped up, including Jim and Jimmie when I married their son when I was 24. So, where are my brother and I now? He is an oncologist by training and is the Head of Roche Global Research (pRED) with a special interest in targeted cancer therapeutics. I am a trained pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist serving as the Clinical and Deputy Scientific Director at the National Institute of Mental Health with a special interest in pediatrics at the interface of psychiatry who worked on an advance care planning guide for youth with life-limiting illnesses as well as on developing standards for psychosocial oncology for youth with cancer.

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