Faith Galderisi, DO '01January 9, 2019
Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist; Associate Medical Director, Seattle Genetics, Bothell,
“My close friend in high school had bone cancer. She lived effortlessly with a prosthesis
on her lower leg, which made me very sensitive to the fact that we don’t know what
people are going through. She died during my first year in college. . . . My friend
was strong, her situation unimaginable; how was I fortunate to grow up healthy? Her
passing solidified my desire to help children with cancer. I wanted to give back.
I followed that passion. . . . It’s definitely tricky, dealing with the young who
are dying. You can’t completely immerse yourself in their suffering. At the same time,
it is absolutely imperative to remain compassionate. I had to remain a little detached,
so I was clearly thinking of the best treatment for them. It was important to give
myself time to be sad, too. . . . My life was impacted by my patients and their families.
I witnessed profound strength in them. They didn’t act as if nothing was wrong; rather,
their strength was living with the waves of emotion, dealing with the unexpected,
which with pediatric cancer can be the norm. . . . Personally, I found healthy outlets
for physical activity to cope with stress. When my own children were older, I renewed
my love of running. I signed up for half-marathons, just so I could have some time
for myself and have a physical release of energy when there was so much emotional
intensity. . . . In 2017, I transitioned from patient care to working for Seattle
Genetics, developing and administering clinical trials for new treatments. More than
half of my oncology patients had been on clinical trials or were treated by the protocols
developed by trials. It got to a point where I wanted to do more than deliver the
protocols and treat one patient at a time. I wanted to develop standards of care.
I’m the only physician on a team with a project manager, programmers, biostatisticians
and medical writers. At this point in my life, it feels like a way to have more impact.
. . . My journey has taught me that there is always more evolution that we can have.
I was just in Bangladesh, volunteering with MedGlobal, providing care to Rohingya
refugees. After that experience, I’m looking to do more humanitarian care, which could
include global pediatric oncology work. I’m thinking about the children with cancer
overseas who don’t have access to the treatments. . . . I’m going with the progression.
I’m sticking with the original plan: to provide care to people with cancer. I remain
motivated to assisting those in the greatest despair who need help. I am expecting