Published on December 20, 2019
Milestones are big for many cancer patients. We ring bells at the end of treatment and celebrate as we count the years. I may not celebrate a “cancerversary”, but I do make note of my milestones.
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Four years ago, I went to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium for the first time as a patient advocate trying to learn as much as I could about my disease and how to educate others about it. A year-and-a-half ago, I turned 50—and this year, I was an author on a poster presentation at the Symposium, and even interviewed 13 experts for Patient Power.
The first time I heard about this Symposium, I didn’t realize that there was even a role for patients to play at a medical research symposium. I figured it was just for doctors and researchers. In the early days of these meetings, that was definitely true.
This year, however, there were more patients present and participating than ever before. We were on panels, moderating discussions, presenting research, and invited to career roundtables to talk with young doctors and researchers.
The information that gets presented at this conference is incredible and it can be overwhelming. This year alone, there were two new drug therapies announced for HER2-positive disease, an oral version of paclitaxel (Abraxane) that may have fewer side effects than the IV version, a rousing debate about whether mastectomy is better than lumpectomy followed by radiation, and a clear acceptance that treatments should start before surgery (neoadjuvant).
There finally seems to be some good news related to treating TNBC (triple-negative breast cancer) and more targeted, less toxic therapies are in development. What struck me, besides the information itself, was the number of patient advocates that I saw mixed in with the over 7,000 attendees.
The patient voice is being heard at every level, and there’s room for everyone who wants to get involved. After 10 years, it’s nice to be heard
Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.
Your site is AWESOME! Thank you all so much for this incredible resource to families who are in crisis/affected by cancer.