’Tis the Giving Season

Why altruism is more important than ever.
Gateway for Cancer Research has raised over $4M at its last two fundraisers. Photography by Philip Van Nostrand

By Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson

An essential part of human connection is giving. Giving leads to growth, advancement, flourishing and strengthened relationships. It’s something that we can all do year-round, but as we enter the “giving season” around the end of the year, it’s a great time to reflect on the true power of giving, for us and for others.

It’s important to give of your time, talents and treasures as a gesture of thoughtfulness to others. Sometimes, thoughtfully giving is the best remedy for stress or sadness, because it takes you outside of yourself. Giving and sharing your resources, time or talents can actually increase abundance, lower stress and infuse you with a deep sense of gratitude for the gifts in your life. But my best piece of advice for the giving season? Don’t aim too small.

I loved working as a doctor, but honestly, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. In private practice, you can only see a finite number of patients a day, but I wanted to reach people in larger numbers. I realized that I was able to do the same thing in a different way through philanthropy. I’m honored to serve as vice chair at Gateway for Cancer Research, which is the only nonprofit organization that focuses exclusively on Phase I and Phase II clinical trials—early-stage research that serves as the proving grounds for innovative new approaches to cancer treatment. Working with Gateway has shown me how important it is to look past your own expertise to find new and unexpected ways to change people’s lives.

The scientists we work with are on the cutting edge of cancer research. They’ve spent years, decades even, dedicated to specific treatment options, or types of cancer, or even a single symptom. I can’t design a trial for them, that’s not my area of expertise. But I can help that researcher get funding, and I can help sick people get access to those trials.

Cristina Cuomo and Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson. Photography by Bob and Dawn Davis

2022 has been a banner year for Gateway, and we’re thrilled about some of the innovative, groundbreaking trials that we’re supporting. This year alone, we plan to award nearly $9.7 million in grants and funding to trials doing incredible research in the fields of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and more. October and November brought with them two of Gateway’s tentpole events—Vino con Stelle in Arizona, and our annual Cures Gala in Illinois—a truly wonderful way to kick off the giving season by celebrating the men and women who are changing the face of cancer research, as well as the doctors and patients whose lives we’re able to change. And we’re already looking ahead to April’s Gateway Celebrity Fight Night, where we will continue to raise funds for this crucially important research. That’s just one area of my life where I can truly feel the effects of giving. What are some of yours? drstaciestephenson.com