This is a sponsored post on behalf of Texas Oncology about the advancements in cancer care and how to support someone with cancer.
Two of my paternal aunts had breast cancer years ago. One of my aunts had cancer in the 1970s and the other in the 1980s. At that time, my family knew nothing about the BRCA gene mutation. There were fewer clinical trials and resources during that time. Unfortunately, both of my aunts died of complications related to breast cancer treatment.
Advances in Cancer Technology and How to Support a Cancer Patient
I have always wondered what would have happened had my aunts been diagnosed today. Now, we know about many types of gene mutations that increase certain cancer risks. We know that cancer treatment is not one-size-fits-all. I have learned that even among breast cancer patients, the treatments vary greatly.
Precision Medicine, an Individual Approach – The Future of Medicine?
Many doctors are now striving to practice precision medicine, an approach to healthcare in which treatments are personalized based on genetics and other factors. The National Cancer Institute says the idea of precision medicine is not new, but because of science and technology advances, the pace of precision medicine research has increased. This is exciting since one of the goals is to tailor cancer treatments to the patients’ genetics, thus improving the effectiveness of the treatment.
Medical Changes in the Nine Years Since My Cancer Diagnosis
Even within the nine years since my diagnosis, there have been improvements in breast cancer treatment. In 2009, I had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction using breast implants. Then, a few weeks later, I started four rounds of chemotherapy treatment. Each of these rounds were three weeks apart. Some of my friends who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer similar to mine have had treatment and chemotherapy in a different order. Some have been treated with different types of chemotherapy drugs as well.
What is the Purpose of a Clinical Trial and How Can You Get Involved?
In order to find more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, clinical trial research takes place both locally and globally. A clinical trial may study how a certain drug (or combination of drugs), surgery, behavior, or device affects a person with cancer.
On ClinicalTrials.gov, you can learn more about clinical trials as well as find studies and more resources. Patients can help uncover innovative cancer treatments by participating in clinical trials. This is a great way to help others facing cancer in the future. Because of the patients who participated in studies years ago, we have the technology and knowledge of today.
You don’t always have to go far to find a clinical trial opportunity. Texas Oncology enrolls more than 3,000 patients annually in clinical trials, and trials are available in Austin through their community-based care model. At Texas Oncology, clinical trial participation has helped develop more than 70 FDA-approved cancer therapies, which is about one-third of all approved cancer therapies to date. More information about the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial can be found here.
My BRCA Clinical Trial
I participated in a BRCA clinical trial that compared various surgeries and screenings to ovarian cancer occurrence. In 2015, I had my fallopian tubes removed; and then in 2018, I had my ovaries removed. During this study, my blood was analyzed and I answered a variety of surveys. My hope is that this will help future women decrease their ovarian cancer risk and hopefully eliminate ovarian cancer altogether.
Inspiration and Encouragement for Cancer Patients
If you know someone going through a cancer diagnosis, then please encourage them to become active in their community. There are many great benefits of local support groups and organizations for cancer patients. For example, I learned about my clinical trial by attending a local meeting for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), a group for people dealing with hereditary breast, ovarian, and related cancers.
Lastly, you can inspire cancer patients to help others by participating in clinical trials. Together, we can hopefully find a cure for cancer someday.
Next: Because cancer is expensive, we have a roundup of the best freebies for cancer patients.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.