BCCT Staff

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, is senior researcher for BCCT. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation and education services for over 30 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the "Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use" listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura serves as the statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative. Laura is also a health-supportive chef who has helped to develop the "field" of oncology culinary translation. She co-developed and now coordinates and teaches Smith Center's "From Prescription to Plate: Culinary Translation in Cancer Care and Survivorship", a professional training for oncology dietitians, nutritionists, and culinary professionals."

Nancy HeppNancy Hepp, MS, has a varied career background that has involved education, health and technology in several combinations. In addition to serving as BCCT project manager, she researches, writes and edits BCCT webpages, oversees technology issues and tries to get the research and the technology to play together nicely. Her master’s degree in instructional design (Purdue University, 1988), her certificate in web design (Clark State Community College, 2001) and graduate work in research and cognitive psychology (Purdue University, 1985-87) have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy's service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University (1997-99) also provided insights into medical education, medical research and medical care from the provider's perspective.

Maria Williams, research and communications consultant, brings over fifteen years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to BCCT. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health, leading education campaigns for organizations including Toxic-Free Future, The Institute for Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders, and Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), a program of Commonweal. She has written and edited science-based educational materials for various audiences and managed content development for a suite of websites on toxicology and public health. Most recently, Maria served as program manager for CHE, planning and executing webinars on pioneering environmental health research, including the popular series The Effects of Plastics on Health. Maria holds a professional editing certificate from UC Berkeley and a bachelor of arts in environmental studies from Oberlin College. She is based in Tokyo, Japan.

In Memoriam

Kozo Hattori served as a research associate for BCCT from 2019 to 2021. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015 and came to see cancer as one of the greatest gifts he ever received. After two years of exploring a plethora of alternative treatments, Kozo took a more integrative approach and allowed surgeons to remove the tumor. Seeing medicine as one healing institution rather than the binaries of alternative vs. allopathic medicine helped open his mind, heart and body to heal fully from cancer. Kozo published a book on his healing journey titled The Healing Grace of Cancer.

His cancer returned and metastasized in late 2019. See his story: Kozo Hattori, Grounding into Uncertainty. Kozo died on his own terms on March 1, 2021.

Special Contributors

Ruth Hennig has worked in the environmental field for over 30 years, including as the long-time executive director of The John Merck Fund until 2017. Since stepping down from the foundation’s staff, Ruth has joined its board. Ruth served as senior staff at BCCT in 2018 and 2019.

Ruth has a track record of involvement in creating organizations that bring new capacity to the public interest sector, especially in health and the environment. In addition to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, she has helped establish or has been a founding board member of SmartPower, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Baraka Community Wellness and IssueOne. She also serves on the board of League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.

Ruth lives in Maine. Photography, politics, gardening and yoga are her special interests.

Petra Martin is a writer, editor, and user advocate who helped put a face in this website. Her primary goal was to empower visitors to access and act on its contents. Petra dedicates her BCCT work to the memory of her brother Tom Roush, whose 14-year battle with cancer ended during the creation of this site. She wishes it had been available for him but is so glad it's available for you! 

Shelia Opperman is the coordinator for Healing Circles at Commonweal and for the Commonweal Cancer Research Initiative. A three-time breast cancer survivor, Shelia attended the Commonweal Cancer Help Program twice. The program had a profound impact on her cancer journey and her future interests. Shelia served as project manager during the initial stages of BCCT development and continues to provide cancer-survivor perspectives.

Financial Conflicts of Interest Statement

None of the BCCT staff have any financial conflicts of interest to declare. No funds are received from any manufacturers, retailers or other entities promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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