It has been a big week in the world (my world) of cancer news. Time Magazine released a double issue titled, “Health Special Report; The Next Wave of Cancer Treatment,” which is a must read. I devoured it page by page on my flight back to Los Angeles from the annual ASCO (oncology) convention in Chicago.
Four days of back-to-back presentations by scientists, researchers and physicians presenting the fruits of their years of labor. As a person living with cancer, I am an information junkie, but I must say after several days of graphs and statistics, I was bordering on going postal. I always sit in the front row. I believe I do this, because I hope the closer I am to the information, the closer I am to a cure. (I know, this is a little crazy, a little obsessive compulsive, but that’s how I am).
So here I am in the front of the row, and I turn around – mostly out of boredom – to see one-third of the 300 attendees asleep. I could not stop thinking what a great “Saturday Night Live” skit this would be. It took all my strength to not jump out of my seat, grab the microphone, and yell, “Hey, people – wake up – I’m pretty sure cancer is your job, and I’m pretty sure you need to hear this. There are a lot of us counting on you!” I know I digress, and I am not judging, but it was just one of those moments that I found very funny. I think next year I will just go online and get the “Cliff Notes.”
There were many great ideas presented at ASCO and two new drug treatments for women’s cancer. One is a targeted therapy drug called Avastin, which has been found to have a positive outcome when added to the standard chemotherapy regime for ovarian cancer. The other drug is Aromasin, which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk post-menopausal women. It is agreed in the field of cancer research that the game now is not the cure, but making cancer a disease that can be controlled through treatment, much like other chronic diseases.
As I talked with other patient advocates and survivors, I could see that there is still a lot of disappointment about not being closer to a cure. I am a little tired of hearing, “If we could put a man on the moon, we should be able to cure cancer.” Of course that presupposes that the former was harder to do. Not true. Cancer is the behemoth of all time. And the truth is that until 2001 we did not have the technology to make big leaps. It was the mapping of the human genome that changed the face of cancer research.
Medical institutions are now beginning to use this technology to dictate which drugs are chosen for specific patients in clinical trials. The Cancer Genome Atlas researchers believe that in 10 years cancer patients will be able to get the genomic analysis of their cancer. All I can say is “Wow!” Wouldn’t it be great to see chemotherapy put out of business?
With Father’s Day coming up we are launching a new website to lend support to men who have been affected by a women's cancer. Gentlemen, we want to hear from you and share your stories. Please, e-mail me your videos at Noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org. In 45 seconds or less, tell us about the woman you love and how she bravely faced her diagnosis. You never know, we may post it on our new site so that you can inspire others. We launch next week and we can't wait to share it with you.
Please join me in this fight by joining Men for Women Now. We will send you updates on upcoming events, relevant news and ways that you can help. It will allow me to stay in touch with more of you so that together we can make a meaningful difference.
Click here to read more of Noreen Fraser's Staring Down Cancer column
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at email@example.com
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Noreen can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.