2020 Distinguished Advocacy Award Recipient
Nathalie Dauphin McKenzie, MD (USA) & Innovating Health International (Haiti)
Director, Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program
AdventHealth Cancer Institute
Orlando, Florida USA
For courageous, ongoing advocacy for survivors-patients in the USA and Haiti, including traveling to Haiti several times a year—at great personal risk—to perform life-saving surgeries (otherwise unavailable) and to train oncologists to do the same, currently primarily through Innovating Health International, a Port-au-Prince based women’s cancer center, where no patient is ever turned away because of treatment costs
About Nathalie Dauphin McKenzie & Innovating Health International
I am the Director of the Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program at AdventHealth Cancer Institute in Orlando, Florida, and a board-certified gynecologic oncologist. I am also the co-founder of Healthy Eating & Active Lifestyle (HEAL), an intensive 8-week rehabilitation program for cancer survivors, largely funded through philanthropy. The program uses evidenced-based Mind-Body-Mindfulness techniques based on the six pillars of lifestyle medicine and incorporates symptom management, healthy eating demos, exercise training, physical therapy, mental health counseling, sex therapy, and stress management education.
A cancer survivor myself, I provide compassionate, holistic, integrative, and state-of-the-art medical care. As a graduate of the ASCO Leadership Development Program, I am a member of the ASCO Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee and its Gynecologic Oncology Advisory Committee. I am fluent in four languages, sit on numerous boards for charity organizations, participate in international medical and surgical missions, and am a frequent national and international lecturer. For many years, my mission work has focused on collaborative efforts in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, through various organizations, recently primarily through Innovating Health International (IHI).
IHI is a non-profit organization based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, founded by Dr. Vince DeGennaro, an internist and global health expert. It is one of the only sources of cancer care in Haiti, and no patient is ever turned away due to cost of treatment. With a commitment to health equity, IHI’s dual missions are to train and to empower local frontline physicians while simultaneously providing desperately needed oncologic care for women with cervical and breast cancer, the two leading causes of cancer-related death among women in Haiti. Survival rates are exceedingly low, secondary to issues of infrastructure and access to care with geopolitical underpinnings.
After a short pause to start a family, I resumed mission work through IHI. I, and other volunteer physicians, travel to Haiti several times a year—at significant personal risk—to perform life-saving surgeries (otherwise unavailable) and to train gynecologists who now, for the first time, are providing gynecologic cancer services for Haitian women.
I believe the services provided by and accomplishments of IHI, which has a team of extraordinary volunteers and staff, are far more significant than the contributions of any single person. A documentary film on IHI’s outstanding, life-changing work is in production. Direct requests for screenings to Dr. DeGennaro.
I am grateful that my young children and husband value this work and are supportive of the time I spend away from them. September 2020 marks my 16-year anniversary of triple negative breast cancer survival. Living life with purpose in a way that one finds fulfilling is what I recommend to all survivors in my program. “Tomorrow does not belong to us, but if we live today with purpose and meaning, then today will have been enough.”