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Stories of Fortitude, Aptitude, and Gratitude

During the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, I have often reflected on a quote attributed to author James Lane Allen: "Adversity does not build character, it reveals it."

And this past year has revealed to me how extraordinary the character is of the passionate individuals and teams who make up our Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) community.

The pandemic required major changes to the way we deliver care. For example, HCI instituted a zero visitor policy—a step that would have been unimaginable at any other time given the integral role families play in our patient care teams. And while grappling with the many unknowns in the early days of the pandemic, our clinic teams stepped up in critical ways to support our patients and each other. They showed incredible fortitude.

As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we focus not only on delivering compassionate care, but also on developing better treatments and preventing cancer. Reducing our on-site workforce required major adjustments to research operations. Yet we knew the work must continue, because patients are counting on us. Collaboration between our research and clinic teams allowed patients to continue to access innovative cancer treatments through our clinical trials. Our teams adjusted to the challenges and found new ways for the lifesaving work to safely continue. They showed aptitude.

As new safety procedures were implemented, including increased hand hygiene, supply chains worldwide struggled with meeting the demand for hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment. And help came through a surprising source: Huntsman Corporation found ways to redesign their manufacturing operations to produce a critical supply of hospital-grade hand sanitizer for HCI and the broader University of Utah Health system. Despite the unknowns, we saw we were in this together. We felt gratitude.

And the list goes on: Our HCI Cancer Screening and Education Bus supported community-based COVID testing. HCI fundraising events that used to draw thousands now saw donors participate virtually. We announced a rural expansion of our nationally recognized Huntsman at Home services. With partnerships in technology innovation and pharmacy at the University of Utah, we announced a new therapeutics accelerator, designed to speed the process of developing lifesaving drugs for patients. We recruited new faculty from across the globe to be part of our world-renowned cancer research and clinical care programs.

In a year that challenged us, our character was revealed. Even a pandemic cannot stop us from putting cancer patients and our community first.

Thank you for being part of this incredible community.

In the 2021 Report to Our Community, read how HCI teams used fortitude, aptitude, and gratitude to advance our vision:

Passionate individuals and teams
delivering a cancer-free frontier
through scientific discovery and human touch

"A crisis creates the opportunity to dip deep into the reservoirs of our very being, to rise to levels of confidence, strength, and resolve that otherwise we didn’t think we possessed."
Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times