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2016 Award recipient

THE 2016 MONICA WARNER AWARD RECIPIENT
GIOVANNA JOYCE IMBESI

"FOUNDING THE NONPROFIT LACNETS IN 2012 WAS THE FIRST STEP IN BRINGING TOGETHER A COMMUNITY OF PATIENTS WITH SHARED CONCERNS. IT HAS BEEN PROVEN OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT SUPPORT FROM PATIENT TO PATIENT IS SO CRITICAL IN MANY RESPECTS. BY CREATING AN IN-PERSON FORUM FOR PATIENTS TO MEET—THOSE NEWLY DIAGNOSED AND THOSE LIVING WITH NET FOR MANY YEARS—I HAVE OBSERVED THE MOST HEARTWARMING SHARING, TEARS, LAUGHS, AND NEW FRIENDSHIPS."

Giovanna Joyce Imbesi has been described by her peers as a "hero," a "pioneer," and "an amazing, courageous woman." One admirer living with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) says, "She is the leader of the pack!" Another acknowledges, with gratitude, "Giovanna Joyce Imbesi has helped to make my journey a lot easier."

Giovanna, who has herself battled NET for over 10 years, first set up her nonprofit, the Los Angeles Carcinoid Neuroendocrine Cancer Tumor Society (LACNETS), in 2012. This organization, geared towards helping patients and caregivers alike, offers a range of services and resources to people living with NET and their loved ones. These include awareness, support, and education – particularly the monthly Patient Education Seminars organized by LACNETS that feature a variety of NET expert physicians and specialists who are invited to speak to the group.

Over 3000 patients and caregivers have been helped by the LACNETS group, both in person and through the extensive LACNETS online video library. LACNETS hosts an annual regional NET Patient Education Conference in collaboration with Cedars-Sinai and the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF). Giovanna personally reaches out to those who are newly diagnosed, with an offer to help guide them on their cancer journey.

Giovanna, a renowned pianist and composer respected by many prominent artists in the music and film world, was herself diagnosed in 2005. She donates her original music to NET causes and composed the CD Short Stories: Piano Music for Healing, Meditation & Relaxation as part of her recovery from surgery. The liner notes highlight neuroendocrine cancer as part of her advocacy efforts for NET.

Today, she continues to give back and serve her NET community as a Patient Advocate. She collaborates with influential medical institutions across Los Angeles, like Cedars-Sinai, UCLA Medical Center, City of Hope, the Cancer Support Community, and Tower Cancer Research Foundation to bring the widest range of support possible to her fellow patients and their caregivers.

Giovanna is greatly admired by those in the NET community to whom she has reached out, and the genuine, caring instinct that drives her to connect with them one-on-one has not gone unnoticed. "Her smile and touch lets me know she is glad to see me each month," says one of her fellow NET patients. "She is a warm, caring, effective leader who welcomes everyone."

For all that she has done and achieved—and continues to do and achieve—Giovanna is our 2016 Monica Warner Award recipient. She is a thought leader, an inspiration, and most importantly, a true friend to those whose lives have been touched by her spirit and generosity.

Novartis Patient Advocacy

Novartis Oncology and Patient Advocacy provide support to patients through an array of programs and services.

The NET Alliance

The NET Alliance is a Novartis Oncology initiative working to help improve outcomes for patients with NET.