Siesta Key’s Mary Eiken is blazing a trail in gynecologic oncology; someday she also hopes to be a leader in the place she now calls home
By John Morton
Q: You recently were awoken on an international flight to receive some news. What was the circumstance?
A: On a recent trip to Frankfurt, Germany en route to Almaty, Kazakhstan and somewhere above the Atlantic, I made a million miles flown with United Airlines. In the post-pandemic era, I am told not nearly as many people make this milestone so they definitely had some fun with me. The pilot and first officer came out to find me, wake me and congratulate me. They gave me a signed congratulatory note, a coin that designates the million miles, and a glass of champagne. I was startled and pleasantly surprised.
A little advance notice on the photo might have been nice but it all happened so fast!
Q: As the CEO of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, you travel the world with your mission. Can you tell us about some of your destinations? And what is the most important aspect of your role?
A: Our members and constituents are all over the globe and wherever I travel. The trips are memorable and I am hopefully impactful for the region.
I have traveled to all the continents of the world and as you can imagine the needs are different everywhere. It’s so important when thinking of these vast differences to be strategic and nimble with the resources available. Establishing partnerships with global organizations like the World Health Organization, the Union for International Cancer Control, and others helps to amplify our voice, the needs of our members who work tirelessly for women with gynecologic cancers and, equally important the voice of women afflicted with gynecologic malignancies.
Q: You reside on Siesta Key at the Peppertree Bay complex. Tell us about your history with Siesta Key, and what brought you here?
A: It has been such a very special place for me and my family, with 30-plus years of coming to the area, starting with Longboat Key and then one day our kids told us they heard of this place called Siesta Key.
Of course, we knew Siesta Key — from our pre-children era — and for the last 25 years it’s been Siesta Key for us. Birthdays, spring breaks, Christmas, and now we are fortunate enough to call Siesta Key home.
The transition for our family wasn’t even a transition — our three kids know this Key better than us most days. What an amazing place to live — everyone is happy, it’s sunny, the majority of people are on vacation, and there’s a beach like none other. Need I say more?
Oh wait, the sunsets!
Q: We understand that several people from your former residence of Naperville, Illinois have bought on Siesta Key and now call the island home at least part of the time. Just a coincidence, or a group effort?
A: Some may say it’s a coincidence but subtle references — and anyone who knows me knows there is not a lot of subtlety about me — as to how great Siesta Key is has no doubt been effective. It’s great to have more and more friends from the area where we used to live in a place like Siesta. You meet friends of friends and then we all are friends!
Many are not year-rounders like us quite yet but it’s coming. There are so many options on Siesta Key for full-time residency or those who are still in a transition. To them I say pull the trigger.
Q: With your leadership background in mind, if Siesta Key finds a way to become a municipality would you ever consider running for town council?
A: My organization is 100% dependent on volunteerism with members who want to give back, so it only seems logical that as passionate as I am about Siesta Key I would give back and do my part.
I hope someday we see Siesta Key become a municipality and that I can play a small role in shaping the future of this beautiful place for the next generations.