Fraud Blocker

Vale Audrey Evans (1943)


Known as the “Mother of Neuroblastoma”, Audrey Evans (born in York, 6 March 1925, died in Philadelphia, 29 September 2022) was a paediatric oncologist who in 1971 developed the Evans Staging System for neuroblastoma and co-founded the first Ronald McDonald House to support families of children with cancer. She also initiated the ‘Advances in Neuroblastoma Research’ conference and is credited with halving the mortality rate of neuroblastoma (current survival rates are above eighty-five percent).

In 1974 Audrey noted that families of children being treated for cancer often had nowhere to stay and were separated to different locations. She was introduced to Jimmy Murray, owner of Philadelphia Eagles whose team had raised a $100,000 donation in honour of one of their teammate’s daughter who had leukaemia. Accepting the donation, Audrey said she needed $32,000 more to buy a house for the children and their families. An Eagles player who had been advertising McDonald’s shamrock shakes and Murray approached the restaurant chain’s regional manager, who agreed to donate proceeds from the shamrock shakes to pay for a house on the condition it would be named the Ronald McDonald House. The facility provided families of young cancer patients a place to stay while their critically ill children receive treatment, free of charge.

Audrey also established the first Ronald McDonald Camp in 1987, a place where children with cancer could have fun and enjoy being themselves in an authentic summer camp experience. After retiring in 2009, Audrey established in 2011 the St James School in Alleghany, West Philadelphia, a tuition-free school guided by Audrey’s vision for ‘total care’.

During her senior year at The Mount, tuberculosis caused Audrey to miss school; perhaps her own experience informed her deep empathy for her own patients. After overcoming the illness, she trained at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, finishing her degree at the Royal Infirmary in 1953, where she was the only female in the programme. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Boston Children’s Hospital where she trained under Dr Sidney Farber, known as the Father of modern chemotherapy. Audrey absorbed his philosophy of integrated care. In 1955 she went to Johns Hopkins to complete her medical training.

Among many honours accorded Audrey Evans, she has received the Janeway Award from the American Radium Society (1976), the Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Paediatric Haematology / Oncology (1995), the American Cancer Society, the Spectrum Award from the American Red Cross, the Alpha Delta Kappa International Woman of the Year Award, the Alma Dea Morani Renaissance Woman Award (2005), the Osler Award from the University of Pennsylvania (1997).

I had been fortunate in that I had a very good, very extravagant education, and I know what education does for you.” – Professor Audrey Evans, The Mount, 1938 – 1943