Recap of the 2012 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

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Many of our staff members and partners attended the 6th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference: Translating Science to Care. This innovative conference is sponsored by LIVESTRONG, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This meeting serves as a forum for researchers, clinicians, cancer survivors, advocates, program planners, policy-makers, and public health experts to learn about current and emerging cancer survivorship research with a focus this year on how we can address the needs to people affected by cancer by moving research from bench to bedside more efficiently.

One of the components of the program, we are most proud to support is the Survivor-Advocate Program. Through this program 20 advocates will attend the conference and learn first-hand about moving cancer survivorship advances from early-stage research to survivor care, interact with other advocate leaders and researchers, and develop tools to educate communities about key survivorship issues. Below are the stories of a few advocates attending this year.

Kathleen Werner
Its been almost 6 years to the day that I was told I had breast cancer at only age 31 and now that I’m an advocate I had the opportunity to attend the unique type of conference this past weekend. The 6th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, was a great chance to get a “state of the science” of research specifically on survivorship.

I wish I could walk away saying I was highly encouraged that cancer survivors needs were being met from the day they were diagnosed to decades later.  I wish I could say that in the midst of all the great data that was presented on questionnaires, survivorship plans, long term issues such as: fatigue, cognitive deficits, stress, sexual problems, or financial burden, I came away fully equipped to tell the many groups I represent that all the answers are ready to make their lives better and all healthcare providers had a clear picture of how to meet anyone or (more often many) varied problems we are burdened with after a diagnosis of cancer.  Unfortunately, I cannot.  As much as I appreciated that much of the data showed that we survivors are justified in many of our complaints that may have been dismissed for years, the sad take home message in all this is that we have very little solutions in how to “translate” these findings to the real world.

This was one of the best conferences I have been able to attend in all my time as an advocate, my one hope is that by the next time I get to attend many more of these answers will have been resolved and ready for patients to use.

Omar Cervantes
This participant, and yours truly, had never been to Washington DC. The metro and the view from the 18th floor showed many an old historical ghost about that town.  There, however, at this years Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, the spirit felt alive and vibrant.

Especially from the survivor advocates that were part of my crew.  It was a privilege to speed network with folks that had earned their place in the cancer world like giants and were glowing with personal experience, hard work and much heart.  Quite quickly I caught wind that everyone had a similar agenda for what would and should come in the form of change for our survivors in the years to follow.  That vision was palpable at the conference.  And the sessions that followed were a testament that the research world is responsive to that change.  I will choose to note the session on equity which highlighted many of the challenges advocates like myself are facing in our communities.  Better yet it spoke about the spiritual component present in our Latino, Black, Native American and Asian communities.  That which enables our survivors to be strong and thrive.  It reminded me again of the need these underserved communities have to protect and aid their integrates, which could bring so much intrinsic spiritual value to this country. Thank you ACS, Livestrong and NCI for the opportunity to participate, and love to all the folks I met too.

Finally, during the conference, we’ve launched the 2012 LIVESTRONG Survey for People Affected by Cancer. Take the LIVESTRONG Survey and help us to determine the programs and resources we offer and help others to understand what cancer survivors experience everyday.

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