Ellen Stovall

Ellen Stovall with NCCS co-founder Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan and long-time colleague and collaborator Elizabeth J. Clark
Ellen attends a special signing of the Ribbon of Hope by President Bill Clinton
Ellen speaking at THE MARCH. NCCS was the key organizer of a nationwide grassroots campaign to make the cause, the care, and the cure of cancer the nation's top health priority.
Ellen speaks at THE MARCH in 1998.
Ellen with Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf at THE MARCH
Ellen Stovall with Sam Donaldson and Queen Noor, Rays of Hope Award Winners
Ellen Stovall with past board member Dr. Neeraj Arora and the late advocate Jessie Gruman.
Ellen at hill day with Rep. Lois Capps and Rep. Charles Boustany
Ellen with Shelley and Dr. Richard Pazdur
Ellen L. Stovall was a 44-year survivor of three bouts with cancer and advocated for more than 30 years to improve cancer care in America. From 1992 to 2008, Ellen Stovall was the president and CEO of NCCS, the oldest survivor-led organization advocating for quality cancer care for all Americans. After leading NCCS as president and CEO, Ellen served as the Senior Health Policy Advisor. She was a founding member of the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Board and its successor, the National Cancer Policy Forum. Prior to the establishment of the Forum, Ellen was vice-chair of the National Cancer Policy Board and co-chaired its Committee on Cancer Survivorship. In that capacity, she co-edited the Institute of Medicine’s report “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition,” which addressed the issues adult cancer survivors face.

Ellen passed away on January 5, 2016, suddenly from cardiac complications due to her cancer treatments. To many of us—likely thousands—she was a trustworthy friend, a mentor, a collaborator, a visionary. Ellen was all of this and more, and always with a generous heart, a keen mind, a quick wit, and unswerving ethics. How fortunate we were to know her; how grateful we are for her thinking and her work for all cancer survivors.

Blog Posts by Ellen

Cancer Survivorship: You’re Never Really Done

When the Imperatives of Quality Cancer Care were written by NCCS 20 years ago, one principle of quality care stated that, “Long-term survivors should have access to specialized follow-up clinics that focus on health promotion, disease prevention, rehabilitation, and identification of physiologic and psychological problems. Communication with the primary care physician must be maintained.” It […]

Honoring Phyllis Torda, a Fierce Advocate for Patient-Centered Health Care

The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), notes with sadness the passing of Phyllis Torda, a fierce advocate for patient-centered health care for more than 25 years. We at NCCS first came to know Phyllis when she was with Families USA as their Director of their Health and Social policies. Subsequently, we were very fortunate […]

NCCS Responds to Two Recent Articles Covering the Complexities of Transparency and Shared Decision-Making Issues

Two stories in last week’s New York Times illustrate the complexities of the changing healthcare marketplace.  They both describe discrete issues that beleaguer and hinder the transparency and shared decision-making that we at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) call for when patients need to make an informed decision about their care.  We comment […]


Reflections on Cancer Survivors Day: Managing Survivorship for a Lifetime

On Sunday, June 7th, we are reminded by cancer centers to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day®.  Today, there are a sea of colors for different cancer ribbons and wristbands, e.g., the ubiquitous pink for breast cancer, amber for bladder cancer, grey for brain cancer, yellow for all cancers, and so on.  But many of us […]

The Impetus for Creating the “Imperatives for Quality Cancer Care”

The impetus for creating an issue paper entitled “Imperatives for Quality Cancer Care” (Imperatives) came from a desire for the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) to have a snapshot of the state of both the art and science of quality cancer care for people diagnosed with cancer across three domains—psychosocial impacts of the diagnosis; physiological […]

NCCS Senior Health Policy Advisor Ellen Stovall Responds to Susan Gubar’s “The Cost of Trials”

Susan Gubar’s voice as a woman living with ovarian cancer (The New York Times Well Blog, March 20, 2014) clearly describes the dilemma of how to manage some of the most distressing features facing people who want to participate in a cancer clinical trial—namely access to these trials and the matters associated with payment for the patient […]

Sign Ellen’s Guestbook

Below is a guestbook where you can share your thoughts and remembrances of our dear friend and tireless advocate Ellen Stovall.

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91 entries.
Ginny Valenze from Whippany NJ wrote on January 7, 2016:
Ellen was one of the great pioneers and a true giant in patient advocacy. Countless thousands have lived longer lives because of her relentless commitment and dedication to ensuring their voices were heard. She led with courage, grace, strength and elegance. God bless and RIP, gentle warrior. You will always be my hero and in my opinion, a most perfect advocate.
Michelle Slattery from Kansas City wrote on January 6, 2016:
Ellen defined what it means to be an advocate and a survivor--wow--what a survivor! She was an inspiration and I hope her legacy lives on, I know she worked hard to make sure it would. I just loved working with her and wish our paths had crossed more often.
Anna Schorer from Mendota Heights wrote on January 6, 2016:
For many years while I was a cancer educator, I would quote Ellen to my students or audiences. She articulated, in plain language, What Patients Want. My deepest sympathy (and also envy) to those who knew her personally.
Shirley Grandahl from Suffield wrote on January 6, 2016:
I am saddened to hear of Ellen's passing. I did not ever have the pleasure of meeting her in person. I knew her through the Long Term Cancer Survivors group on ACOR, and through the NCCS. She taught me about strength, poise in the face of health challenges, and how to be a better advocate. She will be so greatly missed. My sincere condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.
Elizabeth from Brooklyn wrote on January 6, 2016:
Thank you so much for making this video available and shareable. It means a lot to her family and friends. So good to hear her voice and see her do her thang!
Jan B Gavin from Washington, DC wrote on January 6, 2016:
I knew Ellen 30+ years ago through her cousin, Liza. I am so sorry to hear this sad news. My condolences to her family and friends.
Mandi Pratt-Chapman from Washington, DC wrote on January 6, 2016:
Ellen was an unwavering advocate for cancer survivors and a role-model for me as I entered the world of survivorship. My thoughts are with her family and the current and former staff of the NCCS.
Richard Sorian from Washington wrote on January 6, 2016:
I was blessed with the opportunity to know and work with Ellen and my heart is heavy today. Her passion and her loving heart left us all better off but we will miss her so very much. Condolences to her family and loving community.
Jennifer Greiner from Alexandria wrote on January 6, 2016:
I am so very sorry to hear this sad news. I worked with Ellen years ago at NCCS, and I admired her professionally and personally. My heart goes out to her family and her many, many friends.
Cathy Harvey Sevier from Greensboro, NC wrote on January 6, 2016:
I hardly know where to begin, but I will start by saying Ellen was a great friend--one of those special ones you know for a long time. She was also one of the most devoted, courageous and incisive people I have ever met. Her unwavering commitment to making the world a better place for Cancer Survivors was a hallmark for me and so many others. She will be missed but I am sure smiling on us--- along with many good friends and colleagues who went ahead and are there to welcome her. One good friend of hers Rodger Winn is I am sure welcoming her with a cold Heineken and a well done. Well done, Ellen! Love you...till we meet again.
Judi Lewis from Annapolis wrote on January 6, 2016:
Sending love and condolences to family and friends at the passing of Ellen. I am a cousin of Ellen's and just found out about her recently and so sad we never had the chance to meet. With love, Judi