A primary goal of the Kilimanjaro Climb is to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials in order to inform the public and help patients participate in studies.
SWOG patient advocate Anna Gottlieb, founder and executive director of Gilda’s Club Seattle, recently shared these thoughts with us:
I’ve been a SWOG patient advocate for many years because I believe that in SWOG we have a voice. Being a patient advocate gives us the opportunity to get to know scientists, researchers, and doctors on another level. We are able to have meaningful dialogues about what is important to patients and to communicate patients’ needs. We are an invaluable resource. The advocates committee is made up of cancer survivors as well as cancer health professionals. Between us, we represent thousands of cancer patients around the country.
One example of work we’ve done recently occurred when the pharmaceutical sciences committee came to us and asked that we look at a trial they were developing. They posed very practical questions about dosing medication and how this fits into the daily life of a patient. This is important to ensuring the success of a clinical trial. We were able to answer questions and make great suggestions, and we know now that the trial has a very good chance of being successful.
Another way patient advocates help within SWOG is by writing letters when studies are in need of accrual. We can help to inform people about trials to ensure they have access and to encourage them to seek out a clinical trial.
Cancer clinical trials are so important for the advancement of science. It’s where the breakthroughs happen. It’s where a trial becomes a cancer therapy, and we are in a hurry. We have a sense of urgency – we want that to happen today. We need better treatments today. We need better communication with the research world, and we want science to move quickly. We do not have the luxury of time.
The fact that Dr. Blanke is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to bring awareness and to help fund research is so phenomenal because it shows his dedication and devotion to making sure that all cancer patients today, and in the future, will have better treatment alternatives. He is an inspiration to all of us. We are so grateful that he feels the urgency that we do. What a wonderful role model.