MY JOURNEY WITH CANCER
I am a breast cancer survivor. I had an almost 2 cm infiltrating ductile carcinoma which sent me, as a parent of two children, on a journey of 20 chemo treatments, hair loss, 40 radiation treatments, 3 surgeries and a year of Herceptin. I sat through many hours in infusion wards meeting brave cancer warriors who didn’t make it, because the treatments for their kinds of cancer were not effective enough or diagnostics were not available to properly characterize their tumors so perhaps they could be one of the lucky survivors also. If you want to see humanity at its most raw, spend time in a cancer infusion ward. The happiest day for these brave cancer patients was if their doctors told them there was a new experimental drug to try.
WHY AM I AN ADVOCATE FOR NEW CURES FOR CANCERS?
My father died of metastasized melanoma after a brave four-year battle, which affected all of our family and friends. My sweet aunt who everyone loved died of breast cancer that metastasized to the brain. My grandfather died of stomach cancer. My grandmother had colon cancer. And my best friend from college died after a horrifying battle with the brain tumor glioblastoma.
I promised myself that if I made it through, I would do everything possible to motivate new drugs and diagnostics for cancer. That led me here. In addition to being a cancer survivor, I am a lawyer who specializes in the area of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. I have an advanced degree in organic chemistry and have been representing inventors in the biopharma area for the last 30 years. I understand the difficulty of the science, the enormous and almost insurmountable scientific risk, time and cost involved in drug discovery that leads to an approved product, the corporate challenges of funding such a high risk, long term effort, the legal patent landscape that is required to assure reimbursement of the investment and a return, and the policy discussions that go on in Congress. There are not enough people who understand the issues from all of these angles.
The mission of this organization is simple: we need new diagnostics and new cancer drugs to win the battle. The price of the drug or the diagnostic doesn’t matter if it has not been invented. The major advocacy now ongoing about drug prices and “access to medicine” misses the point. First let’s open the barn door and motivate and incentivize our brilliant scientists to follow any path possible to make progress. Once they have discovered and developed a cancer diagnostic and/or drug, then we can worry about pricing it. Let’s put life first. And shame on us as a country if we don’t maximize every effort, resource and talented scientific mind to do so.
Therefore, I am using the platform I have as a lawyer and ability to petition for this cause, which I donate my time to do. Most patients and their families fighting the cancer battle are not aware that the U.S. Supreme Court has been negatively changing the law in the United States to decrease protection for all new diagnostic assays and a field of potential cancer drugs, by reducing the scope of what kinds of developments are eligible for patent protection. This effort is about advocacy; it is about change; it is about time. Every cancer patient and their family members, along with talented cancer scientists, need to scream from the building tops that we are done. Cancer has to end.