Dr. Audrey Evans is a world-renowned oncologist whose career has spanned more than 60 years.
As the co-founder of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (1974), the first Ronald McDonald House in the world that led to the creation of Ronald McDonald House Charities, and the co-founder of St. James School (2011), a faith-based middle school for under-resources youth, her efforts have impacted the lives of millions across the world.
Now at the advanced age of 92, her legacy was recently celebrated by the awe-inspiring new digital series, Modern Hero, which features groundbreaking women who are making a difference in their careers and in the world.
Dr Audrey Evans reduced mortality rates by 50% for neuroblastoma patients…she’s helped 7 million families in more than 63 countries across the globe….she’s giving under-resourced youth a chance at a better life…and at 92 she “still has the ability to do something for the benefit of humanity.”
Susan Campbell, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House, nominated Dr. Evans as her Modern Hero for her unparalleled work in the fields of medicine and philanthropy. “Dr. Evans is an extraordinary woman,” commented Campbell. “I find her to be an inspiration and someone that not only has given back to her community, but has truly impacted the world and has a legacy.”
Susan continues, “And it’s not a legacy that’s just in one area, and I think that’s what makes it so unique.”
Audrey Evans was born in York, England in 1925, and knew from the time she was five-years-old that she wanted to be a doctor. Despite contracting tuberculosis in high school and being quarantined in the hospital for a year, Evans still graduated and was accepted to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.
Evans moved to the United States in 1953 as a Fulbright Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital where, in 1957, she would conduct early work on autologous bone marrow transplantation. Dr. Evans was appointed head of the hematology-oncology unit at University of Chicago Clinics in 1964, and in 1968 assumed management of the children’s cancer center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She served as chair of the Division of Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 1969 to 1989, and was appointed a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvanian School of Medicine in 1972.
She’s reduced mortality rates by 50% for neuroblastoma patients…she’s helped 7 million families in more than 63 countries across the globe….she’s giving under-resourced youth a chance at a better life…and at 92 she “still has the ability to do something for the benefit of humanity.” This is, the one and only, Dr. Audrey Evans.
Dr. Evans is known as a pioneer in the clinical study and treatment of childhood cancers, particularly neuroblastoma, the most common of the solid childhood cancers. A year 2000 cover story in the journal Cancer Research says of Dr. Evans, “More than any other person during the last three decades, she has transformed our thinking about neuroblastoma.”
She painstakingly developed the Evans Staging System for Neuroblastoma in 1971 based on both the site of origin and the clinical behavior of the tumor. Part of this advance permitted identification of patients who would fare well regardless of treatment; she was also the first to withhold therapy from this group and spare these children unnecessary chemotherapy and its devastating side effects.
Dr. Evans is possibly best known for her role in creating the original Ronald McDonald House in 1974. The facility gives families of young cancer patients a place to stay while their critically ill children receive treatment. For children suffering painful illnesses and painful treatments, Dr. Evans wanted to create a place where they could have fun and enjoy being themselves, a summer camp experience for children with cancer. In 1987 the Ronald McDonald Camp was established.
Dr. Evans also instituted and chaired the early meetings for Advances in Neuroblastoma Research, which began on May 30, 1975, as a series of symposia held at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This conference, now held every two years, is designed to promote the exchange of information among investigators studying neuroblastoma biology, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy. Each year its international scope has increased.
Among the many honours accorded Dr. Audrey Evans are the Janeway Award of the American Radium Society, the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Distinguished Career Award, an award from the American Cancer Society, the Spectrum Award of the American Red Cross, the Alpha Delta Kappa International Woman of the Year Award, and most recently, the Osler Award, one of the University of Pennsylvania’s most prestigious awards.
After an unrivaled medical career that spanned six decades, Dr. Evans briefly retired in 2009 at the age of 84. Her retirement only lasted two short years, and in 2011 she co-founded the St. James School that aims to break to cycle of poverty through providing under-resourced youth with an extended school year.
At 92-years-young, Dr. Evans has no sign of slowing down. Whether she’s fundraising for organizations she cares about or participating in other philanthropic efforts, Dr Evans wants to be remembered for one thing – “Audrey Evans: A woman who cared.”