Feature Stories

Meet the Fifth Annual Astellas Oncology C3 Prize Finalists Whose Inspiring Ideas are Changing Cancer Care

Jan 6, 2021

Tune into the C3 Prize virtual pitch event on the Astellas US Facebook page at 11:00 a.m. CT on March 23, 2021 to watch the finalists pitch their ideas to an expert judging panel of leaders in business, innovation and cancer care. RSVP here today.

Every day, people impacted by cancer and their loved ones navigate a complex journey. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the complexity of cancer care, creating additional emotional, financial and physical strain for people impacted by cancer and their loved ones. That’s why more than ever, we need to cultivate ideas that are making an impact in the cancer care community beyond medicine.

The Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize is fueling big ideas that tackle everyday challenges in cancer care beyond medicine. Now in its fifth year, the C3 Prize is awarding up to $200,000 in grants and resources to help advance these promising ideas.  

Today, Astellas Oncology is announcing the three finalists for the C3 Prize: Lisa McKenzie, Valeria Arango Velez, and Omolola Salako. These three female founders’ personal and professional experiences sparked their passion to change cancer care, each taking on a different challenge of the cancer care journey. While we reviewed many innovative and thoughtful submissions this year, these three finalists best represented the C3 Prize criteria.

All three finalists will pitch their ideas to an expert judging panel of leaders in business, innovation and cancer care, with cancer activist Bill Rancic serving as emcee, at a virtual pitch event in March. They’ll be awarded grants and resources to help advance their ideas, with one Grand Prize winner to be awarded $100,000 in grant funding and two Innovation Prize winners to be awarded $50,000 in grants. All will have access to mentorship and a yearlong membership to MATTER, a global healthcare startup incubator, community nexus and corporate innovation accelerator; the Grand Prize winner will also receive hands-on support, expertise, and resources from Slalom, a modern consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation. Sign up for updates on how you can be a part of our virtual watch party on March 23.


Lisa McKenzie – You Night Empowering Events

Larry Kendra

Lisa McKenzie is an entrepreneur from Louisiana, passionate about empowering others in her community. Lisa founded an organization to help women embrace life beyond cancer. She believes in the power of storytelling and wants to remind people that they are more than their cancer diagnosis.

C3 Prize Idea: A narrative therapy storytelling course that helps cancer patients articulate their life’s journey, find their inner strength and encourage others with cancer.

You Night Empowering Events helps women embrace life beyond cancer, knowing that mental and emotional care is an overlooked but necessary part of cancer care treatment. The Story Crafting E-Course is designed to bring survivors together virtually to share their stories, find their inner strength and encourage others who have been diagnosed with cancer. They believe that the lives of people living with cancer can be changed for the better simply by articulating their experience so that other people can understand what they are going through.

Valeria Arango Velez, MD – Healing Presents

Larry Kendra

Dr. Valeria Arango Velez is a medical doctor, surgeon, and cancer survivor from Colombia focused on bringing mind-body therapies to people during their cancer journey. As someone who had cancer herself, she understands the emotional needs that patients experience during their cancer journey.

C3 Prize Idea: A mind-body therapy app designed to help address challenges and improve care and overall experience for cancer patients on their journey.

Healing Presents is a mobile cancer app with mind-body therapies, that implements awareness, quality of life, and psycho-physiological wellbeing during each moment of the cancer journey. It is carefully designed to help address emotional challenges and is meant to improve the care and the overall experience of cancer patients.

Omolola Salako, MBBS, FWACS – Oncopadi Technologies

Larry Kendra

Dr. Omolola Salako is an expert in radiation oncology from Nigeria and an innovator who aims to solve complex problems in cancer care. Her personal journey to change cancer care started in 2003, when her sister was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer and ultimately passed away. The experience defined her passion and ultimately, her profession. Omolola believes that anyone diagnosed with cancer should have prompt access to accurate cancer information and support.

C3 Prize Idea: An app that connects cancer patients with the specialists and hospitals they need to access care.

Oncopadi is centered on democratizing cancer information and care through technology so that people can find out they have cancer and receive treatment earlier, before the cancer has progressed. The Oncopadi mobile cancer app is a digital patient navigator that provides telemedicine, symptom tracker, patient educational materials, and a supportive online cancer support group.


We believe these inspiring finalists are proof that together, we can change cancer care. You can be a part of this movement to change cancer care, too.

Mark your calendar for 11:00 a.m. CT on March 23, 2021, when you can join a virtual watch party hosted by celebrity entrepreneur and cancer activist Bill Rancic, and watch the finalists pitch their ideas to an expert judging panel of leaders in business, innovation and cancer care. Visit the C3 Prize website to sign up for updates on the event.

Follow #C3Prize and Astellas Oncology on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to see the latest updates.