Community

End goal: Curing cancer

Ferris Saad at Abrams Public Health Center in Tucson, Arizona. Courtesy Photo/Kris Hanning

TUCSON, Ariz. – Osage tribal member Ferris Saad, 27, sought to find answers for one of the largest medical mysteries - cancer. The University of Arizona senior expects to graduate in 2023 to complete his pre-medical program before taking the MCAT. After that, Ferris hopes to form his own pathway in oncology.

“Currently, I aspire to do everything I can in the Native American Cancer Prevention program while assisting my mentor, Dr. Jennifer W. Bea and her cancer prevention research team,” Ferris said. He further explained how much of the work they do revolves around a close collaboration with tribes in Arizona. While working closely with Bea, Ferris also felt privileged to assist her with her work alongside the National Women’s Health Initiative as well.

“I aspire to make the most efficient cancer treatments available to every patient who is in need. I am excited to see what new cancer treatments become available in the future and I hope that these medical breakthroughs can help alleviate the burden of cancer in the most vulnerable individuals,” Ferris said. He explained that his interest in oncology has to do with the many medical mysteries around it that have yet to be solved. While there are numerous environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors that can lead to the onset of cancer, Ferris has come to find that every cancer patient has a different story.

Being Native helped pique his interest in focusing on vulnerable groups that are historically overlooked, especially when it comes to health and wellness. For Ferris, working as a mentee within the NACP is only the beginning.

“Even though I reside in Arizona, I always think about my Osage roots and how my roots have helped provide me with the strength to keep pursuing my dreams. Though, at the end of the day, I am simply a human being who enjoys helping fellow human beings,” he said. Ferris enjoys hearing from other Osage members about the impact they make in their communities and is glad to share his own story as well.

Ferris and his brother, Emile, recently participated in the Native SOAR program at the University of Arizona. The SOAR program seeks to provide indigenous students relevant college planning information through undergraduate mentors such as Ferris and Emile.

“We were able to share our personal backgrounds and stories with students and instructors on campus who come from tribal nations from all across the country. My brother and I are most likely one of few members of the Osage Nation at our university, but I do believe that everything we are doing with our studies can help inspire other Osage across the country to follow their passions for everything they want to do in life,” Ferris said.