Paying it Forward on World Cancer Day
By Cindy North, Head of U.S. Oncology Consumer Marketing
There are days that I still can’t believe that I get paid to do what I do each day. But please keep this between us — wouldn’t want the company to know that because I would lose all leverage while negotiating my next salary increase (laughing out loud).
I head up patient marketing for the oncology franchise. To me, I literally have the best job in the entire organization. You may ask yourself, what does that really mean — what do you do? Simply put, I have the honor of working directly with our patients, their caregivers and patient advocacy groups to ensure our products and services are developed with them in mind. My job is to ensure every single thing we do in oncology is completely patient-centered and inspired.
This year’s World Cancer Day 2020 is highly symbolic in many ways — both personally and professionally — as it encouraged me to pause and take the time to reflect on my 20-year career at Bayer. It’s hard to believe two decades have flown by. I practice gratitude for the impact it’s made to the patients I serve, as well as how it’s influenced my private life — in particular my daughters.
Although I currently work in the oncology franchise, over my 20-year tenure I had the opportunity to be a part of numerous patient communities and therapeutic areas, each of which touched my life in a very personal way. My daughters have grown up knowing the importance of service — they started going to multiple sclerosis walks & runs in the stroller and have become personally invested in the various communities for which Bayer has products—from hemophilia to heart disease. These community events have enabled them — early on — to understand how essential it is to pay it forward and advocate for those whose voices need amplifying.
Many people in these communities that Bayer has served, have become our friends. And some we consider part of our family. In fact, my daughters were junior bridesmaids at one of their weddings. They have touched our lives and have made us a better family and human beings. And for me — a better patient advocate. These relationships taught me something very powerful: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much your care.” And the only way to convey how much you care is by investing in relationships and doing everything you can each day to serve the community and their needs.
Due in large part to what they were exposed to from my career at Bayer, both of my daughters are pursing careers in health care — one wants to be a pharmaceutical marketer and the other a nurse practitioner. There’s no doubt this stems from being exposed to our industry and the meaningful work we do.
When I think about how Bayer has positively impacted the communities we serve, it literally warms my heart. As Bayer employees, our commitment far surpasses any type of financial contributions we make. We volunteer (on our own time) to support community fundraisers and take part in local events (see the photo of Team Bayer at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Walk this fall) . We don’t do this because we have to, but because we want to. It’s a part of our “why,” our purpose. It’s the reason why we are in the pharmaceutical industry. And from the community’s perspective, I hope our passion is evident and authentic. This is why I am so proud of what we do and who we are.
Leading these events for Bayer or helping our sales force take part in them on a local level is beyond gratifying. Giving Bayer employees the chance to come face-to-face with the patient communities we serve helps remind each of us why we get up every morning and do what we do each day, which isn’t always easy. Every person in the company is contributing to making a patient’s life better in some way — whether you are in compliance, legal or finance. You don’t need to have a patient-facing role to make a difference. And it is essential that every employee keeps this belief front in center.
In the pharmaceutical division, we are in the business of saving lives. What could be nobler or more important than that? When people ask me what I do for a living, I say: I help people add more “time” to their lives and inject more ”life” in their time. Most have to pause a moment to really get it. But once they do, they’ll agree, I really do have the best job in the world. This is what inspires me on this World Cancer Day 2020. Looking forward to another 20 years of putting patients first.