a beautiful mind
nursing professor accepts macarthur award for her work in geriatric oncology
by glen fest
february 26, 2004
sarah kagan, ph.d., rn, is only the second nurse to win the $500,000 "genius" grant from the macarthur foundation.
that's so sad." people meeting sarah kagan, ph.d., rn, often get the wrong idea when she tells them she works with elderly patients with cancer. they react with sorrow as they imagine kagan struggling through the daily despair of ailing seniors losing time and hope.
"my work isn't at all sad," kagan counters. as both a practicing nurse and a researcher, she has found that the bleak outlook stems from ageist attitudes and a dearth of scientific knowledge about older people and cancer. instead of believing that the elderly are "supposed to get sick," kagan has devoted her career to learning the paths to recovery for patients with cancer who are 65 and older, she said.
"it's really about living, and living as well as you can," said kagan, an associate professor of gerontological nursing at the university of pennsylvania. "as a result, i'm commonly in the situation of explaining to people what's really rewarding and what's really hopeful about working with older adults who have cancer."
thanks to the 41-year-old kagan, there may be much more optimism to share in the years to come. kagan was honored in the fall as one of 24 recipients of a 2003 macarthur foundation fellowship, the "no strings attached" $500,000 annual award that goes to trailblazers in the fields of science, medicine and the arts.