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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Survivor Among Scientists

By: Rochelle Shoretz, Executive Director

I recently returned from a five day conference hosted by the American Association of Cancer Research, in which I participated as a member of the Survivor-Scientist Program. It was an opportunity for those scientists at the heart of cancer research to meet and speak with cancer survivors. And it was an incredible opportunity for us – survivors of all forms of cancer - to meet those taking steps towards a cure. More than anything, I left the conference hopeful – not because of any promising discovery or treatment – but because of the sheer number of men and women dedicated to the science of cancer. Like you, I’ve read about clinical trials in the newspaper, and even participated in a few coordinated by various hospitals and medical institutions in whose waiting rooms I’ve spent too many hours. But I didn’t quite realize the depth of research being done on the genetic level – an entire “basement” of research in which scientists are attempting to map the sequencing of our genome and generate tailored cancer treatments on the basis of those unique maps. The plenary sessions were packed with thousands of research scientists – in rooms as large as a football field and, in some cases, with graphs and slides as difficult for me to follow as a football game! It was one of the few experiences of my life in which I felt grateful to be overwhelmed.

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