Dr. Abe Abdalla believes there’s no better example of the value of leadership than that shown in cancer care.
“Oncology deals with very emotional and challenging situations for patients and their families. Excellence in oncology demands advanced technologies and a meticulously coordinated collaboration of highly trained experts,” says Abdalla, radiation oncologist and medical director of CoxHealth’s Hulston Cancer Center. “Leading a successful oncology program requires the proper personality and skillsets to accomplish the important mission of providing comprehensive and compassionate care for our cancer patients.”
Born and raised in Syria, to which his grandparents migrated from Turkey, Abdalla attended medical school at Syria’s Aleppo University.
“My family is Orthodox Christian, an ancient minority in Turkey and Syria, and because of many religious persecutions my family had to migrate every 30 to 50 years,” he says. “In 1988, I made the decision to come to the United States to pursue higher education at the best possible university in the world.”
For Abdalla, that meant the University of Chicago, where he did his medical training before joining the faculty – a dream position he never planned to leave. But then he met future wife Kristen, a native Missourian, and the couple relocated to the Ozarks in 2000.
“It has been a perfect fit for us as a family and for me professionally,” says Abdalla, father of three children. “Springfield has been a blessing to us, and I am so glad and honored to be part of our great community.”
He has served as CoxHealth’s president of medical staff and as president of the Greene County Medical Society. He is also founder of the Prostate Cancer Organization of the Ozarks, which recently kicked off its inaugural fundraiser, raising more than $100,000.
“This organization is dedicated to helping prostate cancer patients and their families navigate the complex world of screening, diagnosis and the treatment of prostate cancer,” Abdalla says. “It is also committed to helping patients with survivorship issues and financial burden.”
Cutting-edge treatment requires a commitment to the newest state-of-the-art technology while maintaining a high level of care, he says.
“We have been able to provide such care with the support and dedication of CoxHealth administration and outstanding medical staff,” Abdalla says. “I personally have brought several new and advanced cancer care programs to Springfield, such as prostate brachytherapy, partial breast high-dose rate RT and stereotactic radiotherapy to brain tumor and subsequently lung and spine, just to name a few.”
Seeing his patients thrive is the stand-out achievement in Abdalla’s clinical work. He views caring for the uninsured or severely underinsured patients who comprise about 15 percent of his workload as his civic duty.
“It is the ultimate honor for me when I see my patients and their families in the clinic or run into them outside of the office and they say, ‘Hey, doc, thank you for your good work!’” he says. “That is what really makes me strive even more to continue to do the absolute best for my patients and our community.”