For the past 2 months I have been preparing for the American Society of Clinical Oncologist (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago. I am attending as part of the Research Advocates Network(RAN) Focus on Research program . I appreciate the opportunity RAN is providing me to hear the latest research results. My goal and the goal of the Focus on Research Program is to disseminate the information learned about cancer research. For myself I am concentrating on ovarian cancer research lectures and poster sessions. I want to thank Dena O’Malley and the Center for Cancer Survivorship at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey for being my dissemination partner.
I have been attending webinars on Biomarkers, Drug Development and Cancer Pathways and reading manuals on genomics. At times I felt like I was back at Rutgers in the Intro to Biochemistry class. I needed to relearn how cells replicate, the structure of DNA and RNA, and clinical trial design. I admit It has been a bit of a challenge . Chemobrain seems to have affected how I learn and recall information. It requires me to listen, take notes, reread and review the slides from the lecture and still at times it takes me a long time to recall the proper names. Throw some unique acronyms on top of it and at times I feel I am talking alphabet soup. But I think the extra effort will pay off in the days ahead.
I have found recently that the media, internet , TV and print , tends to run with stories of agents that can cure cancer or raise or reduce risk without putting the results in perspective. This may raise hopes for patients when in fact the drug/agent is many years away from being used on humans. Rather we should ask: Was the research on animals or humans? Has the drug/agent finished clinical trials?How large was the study? How expensive is the agent/drug/screening test. How long until the agent is available?Many times groups push for a screening test for the general population that really does not fit the criteria of being specific and sensitive. My plan is to post an update every day from the Conference but in the weeks ahead I will follow up with more detailed information which hopefully will answer the questions I posed above .
The other bonus of this trip is meeting other research advocates from around the world.
Can’t wait for the sessions to begin tomorrow!
Every Day is a Blessing.