Making Strides in Advocacy: Our Week at SABCS
By Tracey Cholish, Director of Development
At Pink Fund, we spend our days reading through files from patients who have been caught financially unaware in their treatment for breast cancer. We look for resources to help with this relatively unaddressed issue, financial toxicity, and help spread the word through our network of social workers, providers and nonprofit partners. Last week, this all came alive and in person at the world’s largest conference in the breast oncology space, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
I was privileged to be in attendance representing Pink Fund. We connected with our favorite industry partners, breast cancer advocacy organizations, nonprofits, and most importantly, patients. The Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation puts on a fantastic program centered around the patient voice. There, we learned of new research, treatment protocols, and the issues top of mind for all the partners in this space, who have come together to brainstorm and solve these important issues. Diversity in clinical trials, side effects of treatment, and FINALLY, financial toxicity, were among the top issues discussed and represented.
At our Pink Fund booth, we were even fortunate enough to meet a past recipient in person. Because we fund patients all over the country, this is something that we normally don’t get the opportunity to do. Our staff also had the great opportunity to connect with a diverse group of researchers, oncologists, and patient advocate organizations. We connected with Tigerlily Foundation, The Breasties, Touch, and Plus – just to name a few.
The exhibit space was full of pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies, bringing new drugs, tests and resources to assist patients. An ever-growing attendance of nonprofits also assisting in different ways were in attendance, and patient advocate attendees were at an all time high. For the first time in my three years, there was a patient included as a speaker at a plenary panel. Nonprofits had their own panels, focusing on their own messages, with industry partners not only attending but participating and it seemed that more patient advocate events had been added.
These may seem like small things to many, but to an organization that is working hard to maximize the message of financial toxicity for patients in treatment, these are significant milestones. The patient voice is finally not only being included but sought out in a productive way. And industry partners are stepping forward to establish and promote relationships with agencies that will take back their information and use it to benefit their communities.
We’ve come a long way, and while there is further to go, the impact of including patients at these new levels is sure to spur innovative and impressive approaches to treatment.
Tracey Cholish is the Director of Development for Pink Fund where she oversees all fundraising operations and donor relations.