Excitement, Inspiration and Hope in Barcelona
Although it was a long way to fly for a 3 day trip, Barcelona was a WONDERFUL trip on many different levels! My talk went really well – I got a standing ovation (at least I could see the front row – I actually was really blinded up on the stage ha) and many people came up to me afterwards saying I had brought tears to their eyes & I had inspired them the importance of bringing new cancer drugs to patients.
It was a talk which tied together the story behind how a new cancer drug was discovered, its profound clinical activity in a subset of cancer patients and then anecdotes of the impacts of new cancer drug discovery on cancer patients’ (and their family’s) lives on the personal (non-medical) level.
I love trying to find ways to try to connect scientists/with MDs/with patients – weaving through their intertwined but separate experiences with the same disease. There is not enough good communication between those 3 pillars of modern healthcare. I think talks like this can do a small part to help generate improved availability of desperately needed new drugs to patients by giving all three groups excitement, inspiration & hope.
I am a somewhat unique node in the world of cancer – on an almost daily basis wearing my “scientist hat” I discuss science and new/experimental trial drugs with patients (& occasionally clinicians) and then I switch to my “patient hat” and discuss the patient/clinical viewpoint with scientists.
A true highlight of the trip was meeting a patient who has responded very well to the cancer drug for over 2 years now (a wonderfully nice woman – ironically a MD/Ph.D. mother of 2 young daughters so there was a lot of personal overlap between us). There is nothing more gratifying than meeting patients like her!
On the way home, I had the fun of meeting some “online” cancer buddies Julia & Chris in person for the first time during a flight change layover. Looking at the picture, with the advances in cancer treatment in recent years, try to figure out which 2 out of 3 of us have Stage IV CRC! (OK, I guess you know one of them for sure ha). It is really amazing how the internet brings cancer patients together for support and it is a real treat to meet online friends in person!
So overall – it was a tiring but wonderful week. The next adventure: moving out to our rental house next weekend and getting unpacked & the construction bulldozers in action before the next round of CT-scans, surgeries & treatment decisions hit…
We are living very active lives right now – but that is a lot better than the alternative! ha 🙂