Dear Cancer


According to Dr. Lawrence W. Green from University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, it takes 17 years to turn 14 percent of original research to the benefit of patient care. As LIVESTRONG’s  Director of Evaluation and Research, I know this to be true, but over the last few months I’ve struggled with this as a cancer survivor.  In follow-up to Hodgkin lymphoma, I needed to schedule a screening test. There is no argument about whether or not this test is needed – the research clearly indicates that it is appropriate and necessary follow-up care. But, the word hasn’t spread throughout the provider community, and without the translation of the research into practice, I am stuck making phone calls, driving all over town, and explaining repeatedly what I need. And, I wonder if I’m going through this – well informed, insured and aware – what are others dealing with?  Taking a page from a previous campaign LIVESTRONG did, and in honor of my cancerversary, I decided to take this up with cancer directly.

Dear Cancer,

This month, I celebrate my cancervesary, the day I celebrate being cured of you. As I was reflecting on what I have gained and lost as a result of you I decided to write you a note to tell you what I really think of you. Turns out, I hate you. I hate the way that now, 18 years after treatment has ended, I am still dealing with you. I hate that you still get countless hours of my time with forms, phone calls and appointments to get follow-up care. And, I want you to know that I work with an amazing group people to make sure you don’t get to take so much from others.

Every day I have the pleasure of seeing the impact we at LIVESTRONG have on defeating you. I see it in the way our events make a person feel like they’re so much bigger than themselves. I see it in the way we serve people with evidenced-based programs. And, I hear it in the voice of our partners, many who have been in this fight a lot longer than 15 years, who recognize that the yellow is tipping the scales a little bit more our way.

As a researcher, I could work many places, but I work at LIVESTRONG, because I’m squarely focused on kicking your ass. I work here because while we are a patient-focused organization, we are not patient.  We are not going to stand by as more than a decade passes between when research is conducted and its impact on patient care, while you’re out there destroying people’s lives.

We are doing everything we can to translate the more than $25 million dollars we funded in research into practice, to support researchers to work collaboratively and to disseminate their findings, to build the tools that researchers need to figure you out faster, and to ensure that the patient voice is integrated into all aspects of the research process.

We’re coming for you cancer, you don’t get to define my life, but we are defining the end of you. Game on cancer, game on.

17 Years

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