Opportunities for Advocacy: Breast Cancer Research Advocacy 101 Workshop

Guest Writer: Lorry Blath, Komen St. Louis Volunteer

In a conference room usually used for professional breast cancer education and collaboration, an eager group of survivors and supporters gathered for a light breakfast. Judy Johnson and Lorry Blath, co-chairs of the 2015 Research Advocacy 101 workshop and the Susan G. Komen® St. Louis Research Advocacy Committee, opened the workshop with an overview of research advocacy, what activities the committee members have participated in…and by the end of the day, the workshop attendees were asking how they could contribute to advocacy.

As the three diverse speakers made their presentations, the variety of opportunities for advocacy became evident.

Judy Johnson and Lindsey Reichle at the Breast Cancer Research Advocacy 101 workshop

Judy Johnson and Lindsey Reichle at the Breast Cancer Research Advocacy 101 workshop

The first speaker, Lindsey Reichle a clinical research supervisor, explained the seven necessary elements in every clinical trial, fielded questions and stated, “Clinical trials advance medicine and research….and can change the standard of care.”

Our next speaker, dedicated Komen St. Louis Pink Tie Guy Dr. Ron Bose, oncologist/researcher, described the three basic subtypes of breast cancer and which treatments work best with each diagnosis and why. He also discussed recent findings in genomics and how it applies to daily practice of medicine. The attendees’ questions showed great understanding of his material.


Research Advocacy 101 workshop

After lunch, we heard from the dynamic and inspirational Dr. Sheila Stewart, PhD, whose work focuses on metastatic breast cancer to the bones. Her colorful metaphors showed why cancer cells find the bone inviting and how the cells convince the local environment into helping them survive. “These renegade cancer cells are like heroin addicts, and when you hang out with addicts you become one yourself,” she said. “The stroma surrounding the bone is like the girders that support a building.”

Two graduate students guided the group through different parts of Dr. Stewart’s lab. We peered into microscopes of cells lit up by fluorescent stains from jellyfish. We watched electric currents move DNA, called gel electrophoresis. And we viewed the damage of cancer and/or chemotherapy to the bone in 3-D on a computer.

Research Advocacy 101 workshop

Research Advocacy 101 workshop

From the beginning of the workshop, one of our themes was “Different Faces, Same Passion,” and by the conclusion, the attendees were enthusiastically determining how they could become involved to help advance breast cancer research.

Judy are Lorry are dedicated to mentoring these individuals and others who want to become involved in breast cancer research advocacy — a lot or a little.

For more information on the Komen St. Louis Research Advocacy Committee, email us at researchadvocacy@komenstlouis.org, and we will let you know of our latest speaker, meeting, field trip or educational event.

Learn more by visiting the Komen St. Louis Research Advocacy web page.


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