Many of us have felt the impact of cancer in our lives in some way, whether it was a personal diagnosis or a loved one’s journey with some form of the disease. Not surprisingly, cancer speakers are consistently among the most sought-after speakers for motivational corporate, organizational, and university events.
Their strength and perseverance in the face of the monumental challenge of beating cancer have taught them valuable life lessons and often led to successful business endeavors, groundbreaking medical careers, or exceptional athletic prowess. Their personal stories of overcoming adversity, accepting change, holding onto hope, and never giving up allow them to connect with audiences of all kinds around the world. Meet a few of the top cancer speakers encouraging others, raising awareness, and supporting the cause of cancer research
Award-Winning OB-GYN; Two-Time Breast Cancer Survivor; Cast Member of Bravo’s “Married to Medicine”
Dr. Jacqueline Walters is on a mission to impact the lives of millions. A two-time breast cancer survivor, health expert, women’s advocate, TV personality, and award-winning OBGYN, Dr. Jackie has turned her pain into a passion for nurturing the emotional and physical needs of women and men diagnosed with breast cancer.
She’s not only one of the top cancer speakers, but she’s also a philanthropist. Dr. Jackie is the founder of the 50 Shades of Pink Foundation, an organization established in 2013 whose mission is to treat the inner and outer beauty of survivors. 50 Shades of Pink hosts an annual fundraising event in October that generates awareness of the organization’s work through gifting, sponsorship of various health initiatives, and family workshops.
Olympic Gold Medalist Figure Skater, Three-Time Cancer Survivor & Best-Selling Author
The most recognized male figure skating star in the world — and a frequent sports commentator on figure skating events in the U.S. — Scott Hamilton has won 70 titles, awards, and honors, including receiving an Emmy Award nomination, being inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and becoming a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
After losing his mother to cancer, and then becoming a 3x cancer survivor himself, Hamilton turned to activism, launching the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. He’s also founded several educational and survivorship programs, including Chemocare.com, the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, and events such as Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer and An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends. These galas fund research into treatments that can battle cancer while sparing the patient. With his positive attitude in the face of adversity, Hamilton continues to use his voice to uplift others and support the cause of cancer research and treatment.
Award-Winning Journalist, Best-Selling Author, Health & Wellness Advocate
An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, television host, and motivational speaker, Joan Lunden has been a trusted voice in American homes for more than 40 years. For nearly two decades, Lunden greeted viewers each morning on Good Morning America making her the longest-running female host ever on early morning television.
She’s also a survivor. In June of 2014, Lunden was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. An eternal optimist, she turned her diagnosis into an opportunity to become an advocate and help others. She chronicled her experience in her memoir “Had I Known.” Lunden continues to engage with her audiences daily on her website and social media platforms, sharing her expertise around health topics, as well as advocating for cancer awareness.
Oncologist; Dedicated to Pursuing Equity & Empathy in Oncology Care
Shekinah Elmore, MD, MPH has dedicated her career to pursuing equity and empathy in oncology care. An assistant professor, researcher, and radiation oncologist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, she is also a cancer survivor with the unique perspective of treading the line between patient and provider.
For event organizers looking for cancer speakers who can speak with authority from a research and treatment standpoint, Dr. Elmore is a wonderful choice to consider. She has spoken about her passions at TEDMED 2020 and written in Elemental, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the New England Journal of Medicine, focusing on themes of embracing compassionate care and coping with uncertainty.
Former American Major League Baseball Outfielder
To baseball fans, Darryl Strawberry is a legend. A four-time World Series Champion and eight-time MLB All-Star, he has no shortage of accomplishments and accolades on the field. But perhaps the most inspiring elements of Strawberry’s story happened outside of baseball. A two-time colon cancer survivor who also battled and overcame addiction, Strawberry has described himself as “a living miracle,” sharing his messages of hope, faith, and optimism with others.
Fueled by his faith and inspirational personal experiences, he is on a mission to spread messages of hope to others, including those who are faced with similar diagnoses and those staring down their own unique challenges. Strawberry has established his place in history as one of the most feared home run hitters in the game of baseball. Today, he’s one of the most compelling and inspirational cancer speakers, as well as addressing addiction and health-related challenges.
Motivational Speaker; Theater, Film & Television Actor Best Known for “Ray Donovan”
After overcoming a life-changing bout with malignant melanoma at the age of 19 – the same cancer that took his father’s life only one year earlier – Michael Steven McGrady decided to leave university and pursue his passion of acting. With his sister Shari’s prompting and support, $180 cash, and a backpack, Michael moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and never looked back.
Today, McGrady is an actor, artist, musician, and motivational speaker. Utilizing his wide-ranging career path and rich life experiences, he is a sought-after speaker who addresses thriving after surviving; work-life balance; character ethics at work in personal growth and goal setting, as well as mentorship in the acting profession and beyond.
Winner of “Survivor” Africa, 2x Cancer Survivor, Stem Cell Transplant Recipient, Social Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Cancer Research Advocate, Former Pro Soccer Player, Sports Broadcaster & TV Personality
Ethan Zohn is a humanitarian, inspirational speaker, and television host; former professional soccer player; cancer survivor and advocate; winner of the hit reality television show Survivor: Africa on CBS; and a contestant on season 40 of Survivor. He has found purpose through his humanitarian work and community involvement and believes that a better and healthier world can be achieved through education, advocacy, and inspiration.
Diagnosed not once but twice with CD20+ Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the span of several years, Zohn endured years of aggressive treatment, including two stem cell transplants. Never losing optimism, spirit, or humor despite extraordinary rigors and setbacks, Zohn used his journey and considerable platform to connect with others – young adults in particular – and offer much-needed inspiration, advice, and comfort.
Poet, Educator & Best-Selling Author
Nikki Giovanni is one of America’s most widely read poets and among the most renowned poets worldwide. Her poem, “Knoxville, Tennessee,” is arguably the single literary work most often associated with that city. Though most well known for her prose, Giovanni is also a survivor. After her lung cancer diagnosis in 1995 and a bout with breast cancer, she refused to accept negative outlooks for her future, underwent surgery, lost a lung, and pressed on.
Giovanni has received numerous awards in the course of her career, including seven Image Awards from the N.A.A.C.P., more than two-dozen honorary degrees, the first Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award, the Langston Hughes Medal for Poetry, and the Carl Sandburg Literary Award; additionally, Oprah Winfrey recognized her in 2005 as one of twenty-five “Living Legends.” She continues to teach, write, and publish books, the most recent of which is “A Good Cry.” Her newest collection, “Make Me Rain,” was released in October of 2020.
Author, Women’s Health Advocate, Cervical Cancer Survivor & Chief Visionary at Cervivor
Tamika Felder is a women’s health advocate, educator, mobilizer, author, and the Chief Visionary at Cervivor, a nonprofit dedicated to cervical cancer advocacy and support. At the age of 25, Felder was diagnosed with cervical cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. She lost her uterus, her cervix, and as a result, her fertility. Felder opted to use her experience and her loud, powerful, and humorous voice to educate other women about ways to prevent cervical cancer and became one of the world’s top cancer speakers.
By telling her story, Felder inspired other women to start speaking about HPV and cervical cancer, which led to a network of survivors supporting and educating each other. From this network, Cervivor was born. Felder currently serves on the board of the Global Coalition Against Cervical Cancer, on the steering committee of the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable, and as the host & emcee and keynote speaker of the Texas Oncology Foundation’s “Survive and Thrive” Symposium series across the state of Texas.
Aerospace Engineer & Former NASA Rocket Scientist
Shayla Rivera is a breast cancer survivor, aerospace engineer, and former rocket scientist with NASA, turned salesperson, corporate trainer, and now international keynote Speaker, TEDx Speaker, TV & Radio host, Emcee/Host, Comedian, Actor, Writer, Producer, Seminar Facilitator, Panel Moderator, and, as of 2017, Director of the ENGR[x] program and Professor of Practice with the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.
However, she feels none of these labels accurately captures who she is. She prefers to call herself a renaissance woman. Rivera has been speaking and performing in both English and Spanish for 27 years, and has a broad appeal to men and women of all backgrounds and ages. Her clients around the world include Fortune 500 companies, national and regional organizations, as well as students, parents, and faculty from elementary schools to colleges.
Every one of these inspirational cancer speakers possesses a unique skill set, area of expertise, and presentation style, but they are all connected by a shared experience: survivorship. Not only have they overcome unimaginable obstacles in their own lives — they are now using their platforms to encourage others, raise awareness, and support the cause of cancer research. As our society continues to work towards a cancer-free world, these top-notch cancer speakers are doing their part to drive the conversation forward.