Health Care

Keeping Her Promise

Diana Tamer Africa

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"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

This quote from Mother Theresa has remained Oncology Pharmacist Diana Tamer’s mantra throughout her journey from a biology and pre-med student in her native Lebanon to where she is today—a clinical associate professor with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy and a clinical oncology pharmacist with the AdventHealth Cancer Center Shawnee Mission.

“Faith guides me in almost everything I do,” said Tamer, PharmD, BCOP, who first found her calling as an oncology pharmacist while volunteering at Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon, an affiliate of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I love that AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is a faith-based organization where I am allowed to talk about faith with patients because I know the power that faith has on providing healing and comfort, especially when cancer is involved.”

After joining AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in 2017, Tamer recalled one of her first patients who was undergoing treatments for cervical cancer. Tamer spent four years with this patient, providing treatment to them including trying non-traditional clinical treatments and pushing to get her in sought-after clinical trials, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the patient passed away from her illness.

“Before she died, she told me, ‘Promise me you will never quit what you are doing, and you will continue to make a difference in people’s lives,’” said Tamer. “I did promise her that, and I told her that people like her make me want to continue doing what I’m doing despite all of the challenges.”

Tamer has indeed kept her promise, broadening her work in the oncology space to go beyond the hospital walls. In July 2023. Tamer traveled to Ivory Coast where she lent her oncology and pharmacy expertise, and her native fluency in French, to the BIO Ventures for Global Health’s African Access Initiative, which is targeting the cancer crisis in Africa.

While there, she helped develop and present a multi-day, multidisciplinary curriculum to healthcare workers based in the region on building the infrastructure necessary to sustain basic pharmacy services specific to cancer patients.

“I am doing what I love as a pharmacist and professor because I feel that I can impact more cancer patients by passing on my knowledge to my patients and students,” said Tamer, “I’ve always dreamt of helping places that lack access to high-quality healthcare, so this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was going to do everything to make it happen.”

Back in Kansas City, Tamer is also actively involved in various community health initiatives, including providing cancer prevention education and screenings to underserved communities through UMKC’s Our Healthy Jackson County (OHJC) grant. Tamer is very excited for the OHJC collaboration to follow up on colorectal cancer screening patients screened in the community. She credits her colleagues at AdventHealth Cancer Center Shawnee Mission for allowing her to keep her promise to her former patient to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.

“I have people here I can rely on who allow me to go down the street to provide accessible cancer screenings to the community or to travel abroad to educate healthcare professionals to sustainably help their vulnerable populations for years to come,” said Tamer. “At AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, you never really have to ask anyone for help twice. That’s why at my heart I am AdventHealth."

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