Cancer Survivor Month: How Dr. Erin Mobley’s journey shaped her career

By Reagan Malenius

Erin Mobley, Ph.D., M.P.H., is an assistant professor in the division of general surgery and surgical oncology at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. Her childhood journey, which started at UF Health Jacksonville, shaped her career pathway.

Mobley was born premature at 27 weeks at University Hospital, now UF Health Jacksonville, and admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit for three months, where she endured a multitude of surgeries and procedures to improve the function of her heart and lungs before being discharged home with her parents. When she was 6 years old, Mobley began experiencing urinary tract infection symptoms. On the first day of first grade, she went to the restroom and found a significant amount of blood in her urine. Immediately, Mobley’s parents took her to the emergency room and discovered she had a tumor in her bladder about the size of a golf ball that turned out to be a rare type of sarcoma. Two days later, she had surgery. After recovering, she started chemotherapy and continued cancer treatment throughout first grade.

After spending countless hours in the clinic and hospital with various medical providers, Mobley knew she wanted to pursue a career in health care to help people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“I know that I was put on this earth to make an impact on people who have had cancer,” Mobley said. “My survivorship journey has allowed me to do just that.”

Now, Mobley is a cancer survivorship researcher with a focus on pediatric, adolescent and young adults (diagnosed prior to age 40) who have heard the same words — “you have cancer” — and are considered cancer survivors. Mobley has dedicated her career to examining the inequities that impact survivors in the long term, discovering the practical challenges that can be magnified for cancer survivors — access to care, insurance barriers, employment and education problems, fertility and financial difficulties, to name a few. Every day, her work is a reminder of her survivorship journey. 

“I know that I was put on this earth to make an impact on people who have had cancer,” Mobley said. “My survivorship journey has allowed me to do just that.”

Mobley’s impact has been far-reaching. In November 2023, Mobley and Raymond B. Mailhot , M.D., M.P.H., a radiation oncologist at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, organized the inaugural Southeastern Cancer Survivorship Symposium at the UF Health Cancer Center, which brought together clinicians, researchers, administrators and others to share and learn about the evolving field of cancer survivorship research. This symposium contributed to the Cancer Center’s mission to promote innovative cancer research and Mobley’s passion to continue making a positive impact in the survivorship community.

Mobley encourages fellow cancer survivors: “Continue being true to yourself. Trust your intuition when it comes to problems you’re having or navigating the health system. You are not the only one, and if you speak up and advocate, it could also help someone else.”

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