One of many advocacy highlights happened at the AACR Annual Meeting in Atlanta in 2019. I was at the Convention Center, working on a presentation about immunotherapy for the Scientist <–> Survivor Program, while hanging out with several people, including Rhonda Meckstroth and Chris Draft. Chris knows just about everyone, and was talking with many of the researchers who were passing by there. He introduced some people to us, especially if they would be good people to interview about immunotherapy. Chris is a great connector and loves to share his resources with others. The lung cancer community has benefited so much from him. He’s always available to us.
Suddenly Chris nudged me and pointed to a small crowd walking by. In the midst of this crowd was a man who looks kind of like your stereotypical scientist. He looked very familiar to me. He looked very much like Dr. Jim Allison, Nobel Prize Laureate for his work on immunotherapy. I felt very excited and very shy. I asked Chris if it was really him. Yes, it was. (Of course it was – he was there presenting.) I wondered if I should go talk with him. Yes, I should! I went running after his entourage and tried to get through the crowd. They weren’t letting me, but when Dr. Allison heard that I was a lung cancer survivor advocate, he told them it was ok to let me in. He warmly welcomed me into his circle and a big wave of gratitude washed over me for this man and his team who were history makers, who had changed so many people’s stories and extended so many lives. I was very excited to be able to tell him that he had made a huge difference for the lung cancer community, saving many lives including some of my friends. I thanked him on behalf of the lung cancer community, telling him we were very grateful for him and his team. Expressing gratitude matters
Please note: some of my previous posts have not been saved as expected, so keeping this blog updated has been challenging. Also, a fairly recent post published before it was intended, so many edits were not made. The main correction to make clear is that we are not stopping treatment, just taking treatment breaks.
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) has a new program for training patient research advocates, called STARS. The six-month training process began back in May when five Patient Research Advocates were chosen from around the world. It continues with webinars, calls and mentoring, culminates with the IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer next week, and concludes with presentations in October.
The IASLC Supportive Training for Advocates on Research & Science (STARS) program aims to increase the number of Patient Research Advocates (PRAs) equipped to provide accurate scientific translation in their online or real-life lung cancer patient/caregiver groups and to provide the patient perspective for lung cancer research and policy.
I am very happy to report that Canada was chosen for one of the STARS positions. Our very own Kim MacIntosh, who lives in Cornwall Ontario and is part of our Ottawa Lung Cancer Support Group, is one of only five STARS worldwide! She has been learning more about lung cancer research and advocacy through webinars and conversations. Each one of the STARS is paired with a mentor for six months, and I’m delighted to be a mentor for Kim. We are both treated at The Ottawa Hospital.
The IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer (#WCLC19) is the world’s largest international gathering of clinicians, researchers and scientists in the field of lung cancer and thoracic oncology. This year it takes place September 7-10 in Barcelona. Kim and I will be there, representing Canada, along with Christine Wu who earned one of only five IASLC patient advocacy travel awards for her hard work in lung cancer advocacy. Among other achievements, Christine helped start the Winnipeg support group. I look forward to connecting with people, examining best practices and exploring partnerships that will best serve the Canadian community.
We know that representing Canada at #WCLC19 is a privilege and responsibility. We welcome questions, and will do our best to track down experts there to answer them. We will be sharing information about new lung cancer research with other lung cancer advocates who are leaders in their communities, and posting on YouTube, facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please follow us and share the news about lung cancer research. It’s up to all of us to share about the exciting advances which are changing outcomes and extending lives.
I owe a debt of gratitude to many people and partners who helped prepare me for this mentoring role in the STARS program. I am especially grateful for the American Association for Cancer Research Scientist <–> Survivor Program, which I participated in last Spring at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta, #AACRSSP19. There cancer advocates were engaged, equipped, and honoured for their work. I am also very grateful for the ways I am learning through serving as Lung Site Patient Representative for the Canadian Cancer Trials Group, and the mentoring of International Lung Cancer Advocate Chris Draft.
Are you going to #WCLC19? Is your doctor? If you or anyone else you know is going, please be in touch and encourage her/him to connect with me. I’m looking forward to meeting more members of our lung cancer community!
What is happening at your local cancer centre for Lung Cancer Awareness Month (#LCAM)? At The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre, our team of survivors plus Ottawa Hospital people have already started planning our second annual survivor-driven Lung Cancer Summit, geared to the Ottawa community. This is a great opportunity to share exciting new research from the World Conference for Lung Cancer out into the community.
Cancer Centres plus advocates are a great combination! If we don’t tell people about exciting advances in lung cancer research, who will? It’s up to us to spread the news about the difference lung cancer research is making for survivors! #ResearchMatters #ResearchWorks
Please let me know what is happening in your community.