I am a nurse, an advanced practice nurse. I currently work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and Clinical Educator in a hospital, and LTAC, a long term acute care hospital. Those are very difficult places to work! I recently joined the Oncology Nursing Society, as I do also work with oncology patients and am the president of this non-profit. They have monthly meetings, usually hosted by drug companies. Of course good food is provided. Some of what I’ve learned in these meetings is discouraging. We are learning about new and better cancer drugs just approved by the FDA. But I was kind of disappointed, one of the new drugs for lung cancer prolongs stage 4 lung cancer survival from 9 to 15 months. So without the drug, you might live and average of 9 months, with the new drug 15 months. I want years! Don’t we all?
But I have met great people and have been able to educate physicians and nurses about appendix cancer and this non-profit. I’ve met doctors who are oncologists who are truly caring and looking for the best new drugs for their patients.
I also talked to a nurse who worked in cancer research, she said most of their clinical trials involve immunotherapy, helping your body’s own immune system kill cancer cells. I want to learn more about these new immunotherapies.
Last night I met one of the drug reps who herself was a 24 year breast cancer survivor. She didn’t look old enough to be a long term survivor, so I asked her at what age she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She was diagnosed at age 22 and her breast cancer was advanced, stage 3B. I assumed she was BRCA…had the gene that causes breast cancer as usually those patients are diagnosed at a young age. But no, her cancer resulted from another cancer she had been diagnosed with years before her breast cancer, Hodgkins Lymphoma. That cancer was treated with radiation to her chest, which caused her breast cancer. She’d had a bilateral mastectomy, chemo and radiation when she was 22, but is now a 24 year survivor of 2 cancers! She was married and spoke of her children. It’s great to hear stories like that, and being part of the Oncology Nursing Society will probable introduce me to more encouraging stories that I hope to share with you!
I hope to learn more about cancer research and new targeted therapies. I will keep you posted with what I learn!