On the Importance of Getting Patients and Scientists Together

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Check out this incredible blog post from the blog My New York Minute, a blog about prostate cancer. 

This past weekend in Washington has this guy–yes, ME–speechless.

Saturday’s program in Washington included a documentary filming of a men’s prostate cancer retreat. In the center, in the blue sweater, is our host, Trip Casscells.

It’s not often that I find myself searching for words. Thirty-two years as a communicator and someone whose personality tends toward the highly effusive, I am surprised that I find myself having difficulty putting into words, the transformational experience I just had in Washington D.C. with PCF scientists and a group of patient-survivors. From where I sit, I often have one arm fully extended into the patient-survivor world and the other in the vast and often dense world of scientific research and discovery. In the middle, I try to share information and insights that marry the two.

As part of the Celebration of Science (an event focused on reinvigorating America’s support for scientific research to find cures for patients across many disease states) and PCF’s program within the event, I led a small group of patient-survivors so that they could see first hand the advances that are being made on their behalf. It was also an opportunity to thank our funded researchers and let them hear from those who deeply appreciate their commitment to finding cures. I also had the honor of opening the PCF program Friday with a tribute to our special guests and closing it as we ”passed the torch” to out nearly 100 Young Investigators. In the morning, I reminded our scientists that each man on the stage represented more than a million men and families around the world who are touched by prostate cancer–that they are our raison d’etre–our sole reason for being. In closing, I ended by saying those in the brotherhood can supply each other with encouragement for peace and strength, but that we need to look to our scientists to keep the wish of life alive for so many.

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Dan Zenka, senior vice president of theProstate Cancer Foundation was diagnosed with his own case of prostate cancer in April 2010 at the age of 51. He had a radical prostatectomy in June and was subsequently diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer. He completed seven weeks of radiation treatment in December 2010 and endured two years of androgen deprivation therapy, which he is soon concluding. He started this blog within days of his original diagnosis to share information and patient perspectives and, most importantly, to encourage men to talk about prostate cancer.