Established as a Greek Oncology Society’s working group, the Women for Oncology Hellas (W4O-Hellas) evolved into a separate, autonomous non-profit organisation in 2014. The initiative has two primary objectives:
- to act as a support network for women oncologists in all aspects of their career
- to assist and support female cancer patients in Greece through awareness and education, in particular promoting cancer prevention
Since its early days, W4O-Hellas has incorporated in its structure the "Social Committee", a group of renowned women of power and influence from all areas of public life in Greece (politics, media, art, literature, theatre, sports), who are invited to act as ambassadors supporting and promoting W4O-Hellas’ objectives. The organisation has also received strong and continuous support from the previous First Lady of Greece, Attorney-at-law, Mrs Sissy Pavlopoulou.
Governing body and members
The W4O-Hellas governing body is a permanent Coordinating Committee. Committee members have equal responsibilities and authorities and there is no president. This Committee is formed by 7 members: the initial founders of the initiative, Sophia Agelaki, Eleni Galani, Helena Linardou, Amanda Psyrri, Zenia Saridaki, Athina Christopoulou, who are 6 female medical oncologists, and the current president of the Greek Oncology Society (HeSMO). HeSMO’s President presence in the Committee guarantees support from and collaboration with the national society and ensures continuity of W4O-Hellas’ efforts within the framework of the national society. An extended committee of female oncology professionals is also appointed, upon request of participation.
W4O-Hellas membership is composed of 300 female oncology professionals practicing in Greece (180 medical oncologists and 120 oncology professionals from other specialties, such as radiation oncology, surgical oncology, clinical pharmacists, clinical psychologists, pathologists, molecular biologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, women working in oncology pharma industry).
W4O-Hellas’ activities entail:
- a yearly Forum: 3-day national event entailing scientific sessions, sessions on prevention, seminars and workshops for patients, including one-and-a-half-day dedicated to female oncology professionals, with workshops and open discussions
- a women-related session at the yearly HeSMO Congress
- actions and events for young women oncologist: including mentoring and leadership workshops through the year. In particular the "Mentorship-Leadership" fellowship, an opportunity for young female oncologists to spend three months abroad working closely with a woman mentor
- campaigns on cancer prevention run throughout Greece
- fund-raising social events: concerts, dinners, campaigns to collect money through a “Social Fund” to cover expensive molecular testing for female cancer patients with financial difficulties. In particular, W4O-Hellas currently finances a programme through HeSMO for Comprehensive Genetic Testing for women with hereditary Breast/Ovarian cancer criteria
In addition, W4O-Hellas collaborates with many patient coalition groups to run successful prevention campaigns and has also joined efforts with other medical groups initiatives to bring care and education in remote areas and to deprived population groups (e.g., education and support events for women in prisons and refugee camps).