Speaking out for patient advocacy

On Tuesday night, I had the privilege of speaking on Capitol Hill to the Heathcare Businesswomen's Association Mid-Atlantic chapter for Women in Science. My co-presenters were Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Dr. Jamey Skillings, vice president of global medical affairs for Pfizer.

The topic was Breast Cancer: Patient Advocacy Shaping the Future of Medicine. The congresswoman talked about the EARLY Act, a piece of legislation that she passed, which directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and implement a national education campaign about the threat breast cancer poses to young women, as well as the heightened risks to certain ethnic groups.

Skillings shared her knowledge on the advancement of science in the last seven years, which has made it possible to create targeted therapies for breast cancer.

My focus was on survivorship. I talked about not waiting for the so-called "cure." What I believe the future holds is new drugs that have very few side effects.  Drugs that can turn cancer into a chronic disease that one can live with and not die from.

To me, the future is in putting money into research to create these new therapies.  The Phase 1 clinical trial I am in is exactly what I have dreamed about.  A drug that targets the cancer cells without ravaging the good cells.  Since January, I have had very minimal side effects, and the cancer in my liver has stabilized.  It's not getting smaller, but it's not getting larger.  That's a win.

It was truly inspiring to be with these two powerful women and to then have the opportunity to talk with the female scientists in the audience.  I love being in a room with brain power.  It's so stimulating.

I will leave you with a humorous thought.  This is the time to visit Washington, D.C.  No traffic, no noise, no people. Of course, most of the monuments are closed, but there is always Georgetown: great shopping, great restaurants, great history. If the government can screw up for at least another 10 days, you can enjoy a gorgeous, colorful and stunning fall season getaway!