Cancer clinical trials offer new ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer, giving participants access to cutting-edge treatments not yet available to the general patient population.
That’s the message Ingalls Cancer Care patient Ledora Pate, 65, of Dolton, will be sharing with guests at the 14th annual Ingalls Conquering Breast Cancer Forum from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Matteson Holiday Inn, 500 Holiday Plaza Drive.
Pate, who was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in February 2012, participated in a breast cancer clinical trial at the urging of oncologist/hematologist Mark Kozloff, M.D., medical director of Ingalls Cancer Care.
“They explained the clinical trial process and gave me a lot to read,” Pate explains. “I read everything and talked to my children before I made my decision.”
Pate’s mother passed away from metastatic breast cancer 27 years ago and didn’t have the same options.
“When we asked what type of treatment she would receive, the answer was ‘chemotherapy for breast cancer,’ ” she said. “Things have changed so much over the years.”
“Not so long ago, breast cancer was treated one of two ways. But through research, we’ve discovered that even among patients with the same type of cancer, the behavior of the cancer and its response to treatment can vary widely. By exploring the reasons for this variation, we’ve begun to pave the way for more personalized cancer treatment.”
Pate is grateful she was given options and encourages other women facing the same diagnosis to explore what’s available to them.
“A lot of times people think they will become guinea pigs when they participate in cancer research trials,” she added. “African-Americans in particular feel that way. But that’s not the case. New drugs can help you, your child, your grandchild, your sister or your neighbor. You don’t know whose life you might save. I’ll definitely be pushing the importance of clinical trials when I speak at the forum. That, and making sure you get your annual mammograms.”
Pate recommends scheduling a yearly mammogram at a time that’s easy to remember.
“Make it around a holiday or a date you won’t forget,” she said.
“The best part is that we offer clinical trials right here in the community,” adds Ingalls Memorial Hospital cancer research nurse Toya Williams, B.S.N., R.N., O.C.N. “Nationally, minority representation in clinical trials is less than 10 percent, but here at Ingalls, it’s about 30 percent. We take the time to educate every cancer patient about all their options and calm their fears. The results speak for themselves.”
The Conquering Breast Cancer Forum is a free educational awareness event that features oncology experts whose topics focus on medical and cultural issues surrounding breast cancer in the African-American community.
Valuable and relevant health information is also provided via display booths, along with touching stories from breast cancer survivors. Refreshments will be served along with many door prizes. Vendor displays are open until 2 p.m.
The emcee for this year’s event is author and radio personality Effie Rolfe. Speakers include hematologist/oncologist Bennett Caces, M.D., and general/vascular surgeon Carl Johnson, M.D., both on staff at Ingalls Memorial Hospital.
Conquering Breast Cancer Forum is open to the public. The information presented is appropriate for women as young as 16. A continental breakfast, door-prize drawings and exhibits (until 2 p.m.) are all included. To register for this event, call (708) 915-6838 or go to www.Ingalls.org/Forum.