Soldier-Doctor Makes a Difference in Battle Against Cancer


From l, Patrick Wayne, Anita Swift, Dr. Stojadinovic, and Dr. Bilchik.

A soldier, a leader, and a physician were honored at the John Wayne Cancer Institute Auxiliary’s annual luncheon and holiday boutique. Those are three titles for just one remarkable man, Alexander Stojadinovic, MD, FACS, a Colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He was the recipient of the JWCIA’s “Public Service Award,” auxiliary president Anita Swift proudly announced at the Beverly Hills Hotel event, with special guest host Laura Baron.

Swift praised, “We are honored to recognize Colonel Stojadinovic for his outstanding contributions in medicine and to our country.” Patrick Wayne, chairman of the Institute that bears his father’s name, said the recognition was well-deserved for Dr. Stojadinovic and what he has done as a leader in implementing programs for combat wound research and cancer screenings at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

A graduate of West Point, the Colonel has served both in combat, deployed to Iraq, and military hospitals, receiving two Bronze Star Medals and numerous prestigious academic awards for his advances in medicine. When he spoke at the luncheon, the Colonel was infectious with his inspirational remarks.

Appropriately, Stojadinovic started with a great quote by John Wayne, “Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” Then the Colonel noted, “A lot can be said about John Wayne, after whom this prestigious Institute bares its name. But those words of his say it all. They speak to the heart of the very patients to whom we dedicate our time, effort, and resources. Being told that you or a loved one has cancer causes those dear to their heart ‘to be scared to death.’ And yet, time and time again, we witness, and so much admire in our patients and their families, an incredible courage as they ‘saddle up anyway.’ Their very courage inspires us, and creates within us resilience, energy, and unyielding dedication to fight for a cure for that unexpected affliction, which has entered their lives.”

For over 30 years, the John Wayne Cancer Institute has been recognized for its leadership. And Dr. Stojadinovic has worked with Dr. Anton Bilchik, Chief of Medicine at the John Wayne Cancer Institute, who he said supported “our research team received during my wartime deployment and beyond in the fight against colon cancer.” Stojadinovic also gave credit to his wife Tanja and son Nicholas “who warms my heart, dissolves my worry, and grounds me on what is most important in life.”

The Colonel concluded by saying, “As many others before me, I am proud to have served my country in uniform for nearly 30 years, and to serve my fellow man as a physician and researcher. Any achievement attributed to me would not have been possible without the support, encouragement, and collaboration of many. With appreciation for my blessings, and in the spirit of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians, knowing that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.’”

I don’t know about the others at the event, but I was certainly humbled to be in Dr. Stojadinovic’s presence. And Swift commented, “I know my grandfather [John Wayne] would be proud.”

Co-chairs of the luncheon were Nancy Heim and Paula Pinhas, there was a check presentation to Dr. Maureen Chung and Martha Harper, and Patrick Wayne got to present the auxiliary’s Angel Award to Gloria Gebbia. President of the ABC’s Associates for Breast & Prostate Cancer Studies, Gebbia offered another great quote. She said, “We’ve all been given two hands, one to help ourselves, and one to help others.” Gloria lives those words every day, as we all should.

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