January 17, 2023
Driven to help other families access advanced cancer care close to home
BY Michelle Yelton
After losing her mother and six of her 15 siblings to cancer, everything Marvetta Walker does as executive director for Projects and Operations in MD Anderson Cancer Network® is personal.
“I just keep thinking about how different things might be if we had MD Anderson closer to where I grew up in Illinois,” Walker says. “My family could have gotten the very best cancer treatment.”
Inspired to provide access to MD Anderson for more cancer patients
Walker joined MD Anderson 12 years ago as a clinical administrative director in the Endoscopy Center. After seven years, she was drawn to the Cancer Network and the opportunity to provide patients with greater access to some of the most advanced cancer care no matter where they live.
“I want to do whatever I can to make MD Anderson’s fully integrated, co-branded partner relationships successful so that people can get the best cancer care possible close to home,” Walker says.
Bringing a comprehensive cancer program collaboration to Indiana
Most recently, she has been focused on the launch and development of Community Health Network MD Anderson Cancer Center, a comprehensive clinical and research cancer program collaboration in central Indiana. Standing up a partnership involves assessing the partner member’s entire oncology program from the moment a patient walks through the door to survivorship or palliative care.
“I help identify opportunities between their current practice and MD Anderson’s standards,” Walker says. “Then I work with them to make sure our organizations are unified in our practices and that we’re elevating the level of care for their region.”
Since the partnership’s launch in April 2022, she has continued to collaborate and brainstorm with colleagues at Community to develop programs, integrate best practices and find innovative ways to maximize their expertise in everything they do to care for cancer patients.
“One of the great things about our partnerships is that we learn a lot from our partners, too,” Walker says. “It is a true integration of practices.”
Knowing that her work makes a difference is most fulfilling for Walker: “Other families may be able to avoid going through what mine did because we have given them access to world-renowned expertise.”
I want to do whatever I can to make MD Anderson’s fully integrated, co-branded partner relationships successful so that people can get the best cancer care possible close to home.
Executive Director, MD Anderson Cancer Network