I have been involved with AACR’s the Scientist-Survivor Program since 2008.
It is a marvelous program. Fun story of how I got involved there, a woman found my appendix cancer web site and emailed me. She was a renal cancer survivor of many years (not sure how she came upon my site?). She loved what I was doing and we developed a friendship. She was an advocate for renal cancer patients and cancer patients in general in our state government (turns out she only lived 30 miles away from me!). She had become involved in the Scientist-Survivor Program and was determined that I become involved too. She encouraged me to apply to the program, said I HAD to be a part of it. I needed a recommendation letter as part of my application, which she wrote for me.

I was accepted into the program and attended my first AACR annual meeting in 2008. I was blown away. The conference was huge, with 17,000 cancer researchers, oncologists, nurses and survivors attending. There were hundreds of presentations offered from scientists revealing cutting edge cancer research findings. I learned so much…and I love to learn.

The Scientist-Survivor Program accepts about 30 of us a year to attend the annual meetings. All of us are cancer survivors who have become advocates. As part of the program we all get to spend time together and learn from each other. It’s an amazing group, I was so inspired by many cancer advocates. We learn so much at the annual meetings. We are able to share what we learn with others in the cancer community when we return. We are also treated very well. We have a Scientist-Survivor meeting room at conferences where we can all go to have meals together, there are special presentations for those in our program, we get to meet personally with some of the cancer research scientists (that’s how I met one of the founders of Stand Up to Cancer).

The Scientist-Survivor Program was the brainchild of Anna Barker (see her here in a news interview), the Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute. Via the program I have met and spent time with her…and I’ve come to idolize her. She is brilliant, passionate and caring. She lost all of her family to cancer and has made it her life’s mission to see cancer defeated. She is now one of my heros (and I don’t have many!)

I’ve copied the goals of the Scientist-Survivor Program from their web site below. I so encourage any survivor advocates to apply to this program, it is life-changing!

Goals of the AACR Scientist↔Survivor Program

Broaden survivor and patient advocates’ understanding of fundamental topics in cancer research and expose them to the cutting-edge science that is accelerating our progress against cancer today.

Develop an informed constituency of survivor and patient advocates who work in the larger cancer community.

Increase awareness on the part of scientists and survivor and patient advocates of the many ways in which they can collaborate to support, influence and strengthen cancer research.

Develop synergistic collaborations among scientists and advocates to increase funding of cancer research, increase participation in clinical trials, improve the design of clinical trials, increase the number of effective cancer drugs, and facilitate access to cancer information for the general public, high-risk individuals, and minority and underserved populations.

Provide laboratory and clinical scientists with the opportunity to gain a more personal understanding of the enormous impact of cancer on patients and their loved ones.

Expose scientists to the key concerns of survivor and patient advocates, which include survivorship, quality of life, science and public policy, and other important issues.

Disseminate the knowledge and new perspectives acquired through the program to a vast and diverse audience.

Create mutually beneficial and enduring partnerships among advocates and researchers.