The American Cancer Society reports there were 17 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2018. They estimate there will be 27.5 million new cases of cancer, each year, by 2040. With these numbers, it is important as ever to educate the public on prevention and the need to maintain cancer research.
With his recent appointment to the University of Kansas (KU) Cancer Center Advisory Board, Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott gives our community another voice in the fight against Cancer.
President Scott is no stranger to experiences with cancer. In 2007, just as he finished serving his first year as provost and vice president of academic affairs, Scott learned he had prostate cancer. He was 54. Last year, Scott was invited by the KU Cancer Center to share that story at an Ascension Via Christi event in Pittsburg.
“They wanted someone to come and talk about their experience, what it was like post-treatment, to encourage people to do preventative care and testing, to create awareness,” Scott said.
His public telling of that story prompted the invitation to serve as a member of the Community Advisory Board. In the 13 years since his diagnosis, researchers have found new methods of treatment.
“That research needs to continue, and it needs to continue for all types of cancers,” Scott said.
Community-centered research is a core value of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. The goal of the Board is to create back-and-forth communication between community members, organizations and cancer center leaders. President Scott said his new position on the advisory board can help bring better services to communities in Southeast Kansas.
“As a member of this board, my first task was to let people in the region know about the board and its role,” Scott said. “I have already received feedback from the community about the KU Cancer Center and its impact on people’s lives. I’ll be sharing that with the leaders of the Cancer Center.”
Scott said since his appointment, the Board has held just one meeting, and that meeting preceded the constraints caused by the virus.
“Upcoming meetings, as you would suspect, are being held via Zoom or Microsoft Teams,” Scott said. “As things return to normal, I think you’ll see additional opportunities for me to engage with the local community in ways that focus on cancer prevention and treatment.”
As president, Scott plays a critical role on the national stage as a leader who works closely with colleagues and the public in the areas of education, business, health and government.
“That’s where I can help,” Scott said. “I might be able to marshal some forces because of my very public persona.”
As PSU President, Scott has been fostering a deeper and more productive relationship between the university and the region. As President and Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburg State University, Scott shapes the vision and strategic plan of the university. He believes his new position on the Advisory Board gives him an advantage point from where he can use these skills and connections to battle cancer.
“The position I hold, and my survivorship — I can do a lot of good as a member of this group in terms of creating awareness and serving as an ambassador,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, this area has a population that is at higher risk for cancers due to a number of factors that can be mitigated…like reducing the use of tobacco, being more active, addressing chronic health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The Cancer Center is a world-class treatment center, but it also wants to lead the way in preventative efforts.”
President Scott said he is as passionate about bringing awareness to cancer prevention as he is about higher education. He understands the role Pittsburg State plays in the region because he has invested more than 30 years of his life to helping students succeed.
“It’s important for college-age students to keep in mind that they are, right now, creating habits that will define their health in the years to come,” Scott said. “I hope they will use their college years to adopt good habits, as in not using tobacco products, limiting their use of alcohol, eating a balanced diet, using sunscreens, and engaging in regular exercise and activity. If they will do those things, they will minimize many of the threats posed by cancers in later years. It is an investment and commitment clearly worth making.”