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Our Vital Options Team

Administration, Production & Staff
Selma R. Schimmel
Derek Alpert
Terry Merrill Wilcox

Vital Options European Team
Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmoll
Dr. Claude-Alain Planchon

Selma R. Schimmel
Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Selma R. Schimmel
Selma R. Schimmel is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Vital Options International, a southern-California headquartered and internationally focused not-for-profit cancer communications organization with the mission, to facilitate a global cancer dialogue.

She originally founded Vital Options in 1983, in response to her own diagnosis of breast cancer at age 28. It was the first support and advocacy organization specifically targeted to address the unique emotional and psychosocial needs of young adults with cancer, between the ages of 17-early 40's.

In the mid-1990's, Selma recognized that more people were seeking cancer information and support online and she envisioned the opportunity for patients to speak directly with oncology thought leaders, using talk radio as the forum. The Group Room radio show was transformative, changing the way people talk about cancer. In 1999, Talkers Magazine named her one of the 100 most important radio talk-show hosts in America.

Twenty years after breast cancer, Schimmel was diagnosed with early stage ovarian cancer and literally became the voice of survivorship. Schimmel’s book,
Cancer Talk: Voices of Hope and Endurance from The Group Room, the World’s Largest Cancer Support Group, was published in 1999 by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, and also published in Chinese. Cancer Talk is now available electronically. In 2006, she was the author of Ask Selma, a Revolution Health oncology advice column.

A prominent figure in numerous cancer initiatives and public policy issues, and a recipient of many awards and citations, Schimmel has served in leadership and advisory positions for cancer-related state, national and international organizations, committees and commissions, and has been involved in various projects associated with Institute of Medicine, National Research Council, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institutes of Health. She is a member of C-Change and sits on the “Assuring Value in Cancer Care” Advisory Committee, and is a former vice president of the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship.

Selma Schimmel is a passionate voice helping patients understand their clinical options and translating new research into hope and possibilities.

For more information on sponsorships, corporate relations, and other programming opportunities, you may reach Selma at:

Phone: 818-508-5657

Email: sschimmel {at} vitaloptions {dot} org

Derek Alpert
President, Vital Options, USA

Derek Alpert
Derek Alpert became involved with Vital Options in 1985 after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about this local young adult cancer support group in Studio City. Alpert was intrigued by this organization as he and a group of his friends had just founded their own "young adult" organization to raise money for cancer research called Concern II. After meeting with Selma Schimmel, Alpert got involved as a volunteer with Vital Options as a member of the board of directors and then a Vice President, believing that the two organizations were complimentary to one another yet quite different in their specific focus and mission. As Vital Options continued to expand beyond the Studio City "Group Room" walls, Alpert became more and more involved as an advisor and confidant to Selma, and today serves as the full time President for Vital Options International, USA, after leaving his career in the music business where he spent the past 25 years as Vice President of Motion Pictures and Music Development for Rondor Music International, the publishing arm of A&M Records.

Aside from his new career with Vital Options, Alpert also remains actively involved in the non-profit community as a leader and member of the board of director of The Concern Foundation raising money for cancer research.

Alpert is married and spends most of his "free time" participating in the activities of his three teenager children.

Terry Merrill Wilcox
Creative Director and Supervising Producer of The Group Room
Terry Merrill Wilcox

Terry Merrill Wilcox is the Creative Director and Supervising Producer of The Group Room, Advocacy in Action and other video media based projects at Vital Options International. A Producer with more than 20 years of experience in all major aspects of the entertainment and production industries. She has worked closely with major network executives, casting and production personnel as well as the leading talent agents, managers, publicists and celebrity personal assistants. Wilcox has served as the Creative Director at Vital Options International since 2008 and is responsible for bringing The Group Room to its current video format. Previously, she served as the Executive Producer and creator of the web series, Understanding Cancer. In addition, she was Director of Talent for G4 TV, as well as Executive Producer for Frag Files, for Gameplay HD.

She has also worked as a freelance Talent Producer, and her client productions include the TV Land Awards, Fox-TV’s Summer Music Mania, Dallas Reunion: Return to Southfork, Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion, Dynasty Reunion: Catfights and Caviar and the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

From 1999-2003, Mrs. Wilcox served as Account Manager/Talent Relations Director for Los Angeles-based Celebrity Connection and its primary clients TV Land and Nick at Nite. She worked closely with the network President as well as the network’s executives in marketing, affiliates, public relations, development, on-air and online departments. Her professional involvement included booking and coordinating more than 50 celebrities for the first TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic Television, as well as talent acquisition responsibilities for the Nick at Nite Holiday Special, several network upfront events and five separate summer and winter Television Critics Association presentations.

Additionally, Wilcox has coordinated talent and production responsibilities on behalf of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Lifetime Television, Vh-1’s The List and I Love the 80’s, Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Edelman Worldwide Public Relations, Marshall Fields and Cairns and Associates. With Cairns, she headed an unprecedented celebrity t-shirt decorating campaign for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that included participation by George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg.

From 1992-1999, she served as casting director and event manager for the Long Island-based, Chezzam Entertainment Group. Major events she managed include the launch of the Ford Taurus at Radio City Music Hall (with Aretha Franklin), the Olympic Torch Lighting Ceremony in New York City and talent producer and stage manager for Le Masquerade’s Cirque Le Masque, touring through Venezuela and Colombia.

For more information on the memberships/conference packages, production services and advocacy relations you may reach Terry at:

Phone: 818-760-5090

Email: twilcox {at} vitaloptions {dot} org


Vital Options European Team
Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmoll
Secretary General,
Vital Options International,

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmoll
Director, University Hospital for Internal Medicine IV, Oncology/Hematology, Martin-Luther University, Halle, Germany;
Chairman of the German Association of Medical Oncology;
President of the Cancer Society of the German State of Sachsen-Anhalt.

Professor Hans Joachim Schmoll studied at the Medical University in Hanover, Germany and the Cornell University Medical College in New York, USA. He graduated in 1970 and is now Director of the Department of Internal Medicine IV, Hematology and Oncology at the Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany since 1995 and temporary Director of the Clinical Institute for Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry since 1997. Prof. Schmoll completed his training in Medical Hematology and Oncology at the University hospital in Munich and Hanover, where he worked in several various departments in different positions. In 1970 he obtained his MD in Hanover. Since 1982 Hans-Joachim Schmoll has been lecturer of Internal Medicine and was Professor for medical Oncology and Hematology from 1984 - 1995 at the University in Hanover. Professor Schmoll is founding Chairman of the Cancer Society of Sachsen-Anhalt. He is member of the advisory board of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). In addition, he is Chairman of the Urological Group of the German Cancer Society, and a member of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Genitourinary and Gastrointestinal Study Groups, as well as the protocol review committee.

Professor Schmoll is a member of numerous other international oncology societies, including the American Society for Medical Oncology (ASCO). He is a member of the editorial board of numerous scientific journals such as the European Journal of Cancer, the Annals of Oncology and Onkologie. In 1981 Professor Schmoll was awarded the Johann-Georg-Zimmermann-award for Cancer research and in 2001 with the German Cancer award.

Email: hjschmoll@vitaloptions.org

Dr. Claude-Alain Planchon
General Secretary,
Vital Options International,

Dr. Claude-Alain Planchon
Department of Nuclear Medicine, The American Hospital of Paris
Dr. Claude A. PLANCHON was born in France in 1949. He made his medical studies at the University René DESCARTES-PARIS V and supported his medical thesis in 1977 with Professor Maurice TUBIANA as a President, one of the most eminent French oncologists, and member of the French Academy of Medicine. He devoted himself very early to functional imagery, first in the field of interventional radiology, then in Nuclear Medicine. In 1975, he entered the department of Professor Maurice TUBIANA to the GUSTAVE-ROUSSY Institute of Villejuif, most significant of the anti-cancer centers in France. There, he developed his knowledge in Biophysics and Medical Computing and became a specialist recognized in thyroid pathology; there, he had the exceptional opportunity to be able to collaborate with Professor Henri BISMUTH' team of Paul-BROUSSE Hospital in the first hepatic transplantation. In 1975, he obtained the Saclay-Diploma of Studies relating to the applications with medical biology of the radionuclides and in 1977 he graduated with the Saclay-Diploma as a Specialist in Nuclear Medicine. Leaving Villejuif, he entered the same year the department of Professor Roger PEREZ, founder and head of the Nuclear Medicine Department of the American Hospital of Paris, with whom he became one of the closest collaborators. There he improved in exploration of cerebral pathology and in particular for brain tumors, he developed the techniques of bone scanning in parallel, not only in the field of cancer, but also with regard to sports pathology. In 1985 he obtained the diploma of University Studies for Medical Oncology with the Faculty of Medicine Pierre & Marie CURIE- PARIS VI.

Dr. PLANCHON is a member of the "Active Medical Staff" of the American Hospital of Paris since 1977; he is an active member of the Administration Council of the National Trade Union of Nuclear Medicine and belongs to many Scientific Societies like the French Society of Biophysics and Nuclear Medicine, the French Society of Private Practice Oncology and the French Society for Protection against Radiation. He is also a scientific journalist and wrote many articles devoted to Nuclear Medicine in collaboration with well-known French oncologists; he is invited to congresses as well in Europe as in South-America. In September 2000, on holiday in Los Angeles, he met by chance Ms. Selma R. SCHIMMEL at a special event given within the framework of "Dance for Life" for which his American half-brother, the famous Danseur-Etoile Larrio EKSON, made a choreography "Running out of time". Dr. PLANCHON likes to say: "I have found in Ms. Selma R. SCHIMMEL an inspired and inspiring personality with an exceptional charisma who could certainly move mountains…that explains why I adhered so quickly to the concepts of VITAL OPTIONS and decided to join the team, to facilitate her international expansion, in particular in France where our Judeo-Christian traditions have firmly established a natural barrier to the free expression of patients suffering from cancer, that word still being considered a taboo…".

Email: caplanchon@vitaloptions.org




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