"I remember thinking LTFU would be a great fit with my past experience," she said. Little did she know that 10 years later, she would be asked to help revamp the department to better serve patients and researchers.
It was her interest in late effects of cancer treatment that brought her to LTFU to partner with its director, Dr. Paul Martin, about 12 years ago. At the time, the newly appointed Martin, was working to implement improved data collection methods and better serve patients.
"Dr. Martin had a vision for LTFU to collect more information directly from patients to better understand their post-transplant health and recovery experience. He also wanted to make sure that LTFU wasn’t a one-way street—collecting important data from patients and never giving back to them what we’d learned," she said.
"When Dr. Martin took over, it was also important to him that patients hear each other’s stories in addition to what we learn about their health," she said. "We owe so much to these patients who allow us to learn from their experience. After talking to Dr. Martin, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this effort."
Together, she and Dr. Martin implemented a new questionnaire format, developed this Lifelinks newsletter to communicate directly with patients, and started a patient comments synopsis sent to patients each year.
For Peggy, the LTFU job suited her perfectly. Her position requires a strong background in science and builds on her previous work and training in oncology, epidemiology and project management.
Plus, she is able to see how research findings influence treatment of people who have had a marrow or blood cell transplant. "It’s really gratifying to know that the data we collect helps to improve patient care," she said.
Peggy understands the importance of Hutchinson Center research on a personal level. She lost both her husband and mother to malignant diseases. She’s grateful to be working in a department dedicated to improving treatments for future patients.
The love of science and a desire to help others is not just a job—it’s part of her DNA. In her time away from the office, Peggy trains pet dogs as part of a national volunteer organization, Pets for Vets.
Because dogs have always been a part of her life and her late husband was a military veteran, it made sense to get involved in training animals to help returning soldiers.
But Peggy said she was attracted to it for intellectual reasons as well. "I love studying the science of animal behavior and using scientifically-sound training methods."
"Being able to help dogs and veterans improve each others’ lives is a honor," she said. "It’s another way of giving back."