This October, we are recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month with three very different takes on breast cancer from our organization and the Tigers who make us who we are.
We understand the enormous impact of cancer on so many around the world, and we’re committed to helping to ease that burden. This October, we’re adding our voice as a company--and the voices of a few of our Tiger team—to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
We know that breast cancer is the most common cancer impacting Americans today, followed by prostate and lung cancer. We know that one out of eight women, and one out of 833 men in the U.S. will face a breast cancer diagnosis during their lifetime; the stats are similar around the world. To date, there have been 110 genes identified as associated with breast cancer, and only 5-10% of those are hereditary.
There’s an enormous amount of data emerging every day in the area of breast cancer research, from trial data to drug approvals and much, much more. At LARVOL, we are the intake team for all this data, triaging what’s important, organizing it, and getting it to the experts who can use it to make a difference for patients and their families. Our customers rely on us to deliver what’s new in breast cancer data to them with speed and precision, so that they can use it to make strategic decisions around clinical trials and drug development.
Through the eyes of someone battling breast cancer, it’s not just genes or mutations or hormone receptors. It’s fear. It’s waiting…for results and treatments to work. It’s anxiety. It’s an uncertain future.
Before 2020, I experienced breast cancer in several different ways. I saw cancer through the eyes of a researcher. While working with vials of blood and tissue samples. I didn’t often see a person behind the data. I was looking to contribute to the pool of breast cancer information, in the hopes that it would lead to earlier detection. I’ve also seen breast cancer through the eyes of a granddaughter, a daughter, a friend, and a colleague.
Last year, however, I saw breast cancer through the eyes of a patient. Nothing prepared me for that--not my background in oncology research, nor my work at LARVOL. The results from biopsies and surgeries never came fast enough. The treatment options seemed dated, and barbaric.
On the other sides of my breast cancer experience I have a renewed sense of hope and dedication to my work. My hope for the future is a time when diagnosis can be done in hours, not days or weeks. I look forward to treatment options that don’t require radiation, chemotherapy and/or cutting off a body part. And I hope for a future where individual treatment plans are the norm, rather than following broad guidelines that are slow to change. I wish for a time when being diagnosed with breast cancer won’t be met with fear, uncertainty and anxiety, but with optimism and confidence.
I learned more about breast cancer this year than I ever imagined I would need to learn. First, as a new member of the LARVOL team, I got a crash course in biomarkers, Kaplan-Meier Curves, and precision medicine treatments as I learned the ins and outs of our oncology products. I sat in meeting after meeting, in awe of the experts I had the pleasure of working with and learning from.
Just as I was beginning to grasp the vocabulary of the job, the conversation moved a lot closer to home. In May, I became the daughter of a breast cancer patient. As my mom experienced appointments, tests, surgeries, and radiation treatments throughout the year, the rest of us just had to wait. I say “just” with a good measure of sarcasm, as it was the very least we could do. But it was truly a difficult task. My sisters, my dad, our partners, and colleagues, and friends. There’s no feeling quite as helpless as taking care of your mother. I simply tried to do what I thought she would do for me, and to mimic the ways she’s taken care of us all for so long.
I’m happy to report that she finished radiation treatments just before October began and that all scans are looking great! My hope for the future is to better understand the ways families and loved ones can support breast cancer patients throughout the process of diagnosis and treatment. I know the road is longer and more difficult for many, and I’m grateful to be able to see that through new eyes today.
At LARVOL, our hope for the future of breast cancer is that the continued identification of sets of genes will provide the key to personalized treatment plans. We envision faster integration and organization, of new information into the vast pool of data, so that treatment guidelines can be updated as new data becomes available, instead of annually as they are typically updated now. Our goal is to help make that future the reality now, so that our Tigers, their families, and women and men across the globe don’t have to panic when they hear they have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The advent of precision oncology is marked by many new changes and improvements in diagnostic, prognostic and treatment methods for cancer patients. Researchers looking to bring new drugs to market are now also privy to a vast database of material from previously conducted studies thanks to a push forward in research collaborations and the creation of shared data hubs.