by Debra Kientop, Ergomed Vice President of Therapeutic Strategy for Oncology
Over half of my life has been dedicated to trying to make a difference in the world of oncology. I’ve experienced cancer through the role of caregiver, as a patient, and in my work in clinical development. I’ve sat alongside my mother and my father as they received their diagnoses, and helped them navigate the decisions to be made around treatments and clinical trials, and even when to consider ending treatment and focusing on the quality of life with hospice care.
I’ve been on the receiving end of the phone call from a doctor, more than once, telling me that a biopsy showed cancer and that we needed to discuss the next steps. I’ve had tests, and scans, and surgeries, and will always wonder what I might face at my next visit.
As difficult as all of these times have been personally, I can’t help but be thankful that I have the knowledge to understand what it all means so that I feel like I have some level of control over what happens. My mother used to ask me “What do other people do when they don’t have someone who understands and can help them through all of this?”. I remind myself of that question every day.
As a professional working in clinical development, I’m always thinking about patients and their families and caregivers. What can I do to remove barriers that may make their journey easier, or allow them to consider participation in a clinical trial? As professionals, how can we make it easier for patients, while still gathering the data we need to support the science? We’ve been making great progress and I’m excited to see technology and other resources being utilized to make things more convenient. But I’m also reminded that we need to be careful about what assumptions we make, remembering that while we may think these are great solutions to incorporate into our trials, patients may not feel the same way.
My hope for the future is that we continue to find a way to provide better education and support, including tools for clinical trials so that patients can feel more empowered in decision-making. For those of us working in clinical development, I ask that we all find opportunities to really listen and carefully consider the perspective of patients and families in everything we do.
For me personally, I will always be a cancer survivor and an advocate for all those who are facing a diagnosis and navigating the difficult path.
If you have any questions for Debra, please feel free to reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org