Barbara Lord

Barbara Lord was a special woman.  For many years, she was the tumor registrar at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles.  She was one of the first students at the Tumor Registry Training Program at the University of California, San Francisco when it opened in 1961.  She was a founding member of the Southern California Tumor Registrars association in 1968, one of the first in the country.  Many of the early meetings were held in her Los Angeles home.  Barbara had a passion for education and professionalism.  And she wasn’t afraid to ask for the moon.

For example, in 1972, Barbara learned that the San Clemente Western White House was being made available as a conference center to select groups.  So, she asked if she could use it.  She received a call from the White House in the affirmative!  She made arrangements for a special symposium to be held there. Because of limited space, the program was repeated on two consecutive days so that more members could attend.  I was honored to make the trip from San Francisco for the second day.  I was amazed that this meeting was being held in this august spot!

By 1972, the Northern California Tumor Registrars Association had been organized.  Following a collaborative effort between the two groups to host a national meeting of registrars, Barbara again led the effort to join the two in a statewide association and was installed as its first President on June 30, 1973.  Barbara was definitely a mover and a shaker.

Barbara then began to focus her efforts nationally.  The national meeting in San Francisco in 1972 appointed an ad hoc committee to investigate the feasibility of a national association for registrars.  And of course Barbara was named to this committee.  She continued moving and shaking, keeping the committee on target and drafting a set of bylaws.  She was given the honor of presiding at the adoption of these bylaws at NCRA’s first Annual Meeting in 1974.  If you had been there, you might wonder about the word “honor” since we spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 hours just debating the bylaws before their adoption.  What a grueling session!

All this time, Barbara continued her work at St. Vincent’s.  Then, in 1976, she decided to “retire.”  At about the same time, the University of Southern California Cancer Center’s Regional Activities Program was founded and a new training program for cancer registrars was born.  And Dr. Robert McKenna tapped Barbara to develop and direct the program.  What an excellent choice!  Barbara’s background was in nursing (specifically OR nursing) and that served her well in this new role of training registrars.  In the two years that she remained in this position, she trained countless registrars, many of whom are still working in the field.

Barbara really retired in 1978.  She then faced cancer from “the other side of the abstract”.  While fighting colon cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Hodgkins’ disease, she was honored by the NCRA as its Distinguished Member in 1989.   She survived until 1991, finally succumbing to the ravages of the cancer, a disease she fought valiantly, both professionally and personally.

Donna Morrell remembers Barbara as a mentor in the late 70s. “I remember sending her pages of questions and she promptly and lovingly answered every one of them, no matter how mundane they must have been.  I say lovingly because she wanted every one of us to do well and to learn as much as possible and to know that she was always there to help us.”


Consider honoring her memory by giving a donation to the Barbara Lord Education Fund. Each year the fund sponsors a special speaker at the annual education conference.