Chapter 08: Work that Takes Eternal Optimism

Chapter 08: Work that Takes Eternal Optimism



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Dr. Foxhall responds to a question about those particular gifts that suit him and others to policy work. He explains that a focus on outreach beyond the institution is key, as well as a comfort with collaboration. He also talks about the commitment to the institution and to its mission to cure cancer and a commitment to a sense of equity in reaching out to all patients. It’s a challenge financially to do that in an environment of limited funding and requires a high level of patience, persistence, and optimism to move issues forward.



Publication Date



Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - Character and Personal Philosophy; Character, Values, Beliefs, Talents; Institutional Mission and Values; MD Anderson History; Beyond the Institution; The Institution and Finances


Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Yeah, well, sure, sure. Interesting. You know, just this sort of off-the-wall question, but, you know, as I’ve interviewed surgeons, like I get sort of a sense of, you know, people talk about ways in which they get into surgery. The people who focused on administration feel they’ve got a certain set of skills that really suits them to that. I’m wondering do you see in yourself and among the people that you work with certain qualities or experiences that have drawn people to this kind of community work, to building networks, to outreach? Is there anything about your particular set of talents and people that you work with that really suits you to that kind of focus?

Lewis Foxhall, MD:

Well, I’m not sure if there are any specific talents, but certainly a recognition of the value of care delivery in the community I think is important. We’re a wonderful place and we do great things, but good things happen outside the walls too, and being able to recognize that and have comfort in collaboration, I think is important. Of course, the usual necessity of good communication skills and the ability to organize and plan strategically to move issues forward I think is something that you kind of have to have, whether that comes naturally or you figure out how to do it along the way. But those are some of the kind of the main issues. But that [unclear] sense that our mission here at the institution is to eliminate cancer and it is a broad one and it addresses all communities, the idea that we need to have some sense of equity in how we reach out to all populations is important. That’s certainly something that anybody that works in this area would tell you. So it’s a challenge in our financial environment to do that. It’s difficult to try to address problems when there’s no funding from commercial sources or from the state, really, oftentimes. So it requires a high level of, I suppose, patience, but also persistence in trying to continue to move the issues forward, that you know what needs to be done is just a matter of trying to figure out how to do it in an under-resourced environment that makes it a little difficult sometimes.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

Patience and maybe optimism too. (laughs)

Lewis Foxhall, MD:

Eternally optimistic, that’s very important.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

I can imagine.

Lewis Foxhall, MD:

Right. Irrational optimism, I think somebody said one time.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD:

The whole bricks-from-straw thing, eternal optimism. (laughs)

Lewis Foxhall, MD:

Yeah, right. So what can you do? Just keep on trying.

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Chapter 08: Work that Takes Eternal Optimism