The Optimisticc team is supported through the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative. Learn more here

Anjo van Heijst

Patient Advocate

Anjo van Heijst was our advocate from the Netherlands. She was diagnosed with incurable colon cancer with liver metastases in 2015. She was trained as a scientist and worked for more than 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Her last position prior to diagnosis was project lead for manufacturing sciences and commercialization of an antibody drug substance for anticancer immune therapy.

As a patient advocate, Anjo was the coordinator of the working group WIWO of the Dutch Foundation for Patients with Digestive Cancer (SPKS). This group works closely with leading Dutch researchers by providing patient perspectives on their colorectal cancer research proposals and by participation in research oversight meetings. Another goal of this working group is to provide Dutch colorectal cancer patients reliable and readable information, in their native language, on clinical trials. She was also involved in the initiation of a dedicated patient organization for colorectal cancer patients in the Netherlands, and she was chair of the core team of the Bowel Cancer Working Group, Werkgroep Darmkanker.

Anjo was pleased to join our international patient advocate team and looked forward to interacting with others, exchanging views, and aiding in the development of new and better treatments to improve quality of life for colorectal cancer patients globally. She was an important and integral member of the team and will be missed by all.

Anjo passed away from colorectal cancer on March 23, 2020.