When people are diagnosed with cancer, so much changes, including how they need to nourish and take care of themselves. That’s where Colleen Doyle comes in. As the American Cancer Society’s strategic director for nutrition and physical activity, the 55-year-old works with hospitals, policymakers, and others to promote healthy living—not only to help prevent cancer, but also to help people undergoing cancer treatment and post-treatment. “There are different stages [of treatment] where you might have different recommendations,” Doyle says, such as after surgery, when “being well-nourished can help people heal and recover more quickly.”
Doyle says she got into her work almost as a fluke. As an undergraduate, she signed up to be an accounting major before sitting in her first class and thinking, what have I done? She instead realized how important wellness was to her, as the child of parents dedicated to healthy living, and found her way to a nutrition degree. After graduate school, she intended to be a sports nutritionist, but when her first job with a California health department led her to focus on cancer-specific programs, she grew passionate about helping people live healthier lives and started volunteering with the American Cancer Society.
Last year, Doyle’s work hit close to home when her brother died from pancreatic cancer. “So many people come to our organization as a volunteer or staff person because they’ve had a personal connection or family member who had cancer,” Doyle says. “That isn’t what brought me here, but it is what has kept me here.” With renewed passion for her work, Doyle hopes to inspire more people to get involved with the American Cancer Society. “This is a disease that touches so many of us,” she says.