Taking Time in San Antonio

Taking Time in San Antonio

By: Rochelle Shoretz, Sharsheret Founder and Executive Director

I have spent the last four days attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, an annual conference at which clinicians, research scientists and advocates gather to share the most recent research on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. At this year’s conference we learned about international clinical trials exploring treatments for triple negative breast cancer beyond trastuzumab. We learned about a trial exploring the use of zoledronic acid in women with earlier stage breast cancer. And we learned about trials exploring treatments beyond aromatase inhibitors.

But what does this really mean for all of us, the women and families of Sharsheret? One of my takeaways from this year’s conference is that personalized medicine, the ability to tailor treatment based on the particular characteristics of one’s cancer cells, is at the core of emerging research. Therefore, it is critical that we understand the biomarkers of our particular cancers. Are the cells Her2 positive or negative? Estrogen receptor positive or negative? Progesterone receptor positive or negative? We must take the time to understand – not just read and not just file – but understand our pathology reports. These reports, and the information they contain, will help us work with our health care team to craft our personal treatment plans. And we’ll need this information in the years ahead as new tailored treatments emerge.

As younger women, we are often in a rush. We want to get cancer over with, get back to our families and careers, get treatment started so that it can end. We sometimes rush through the understanding that can only come with questions, questions that we may be too afraid or too rushed to ask.

I had four days to ask questions, and it was empowering. Although I was diagnosed almost ten years ago, I found myself considering new questions, making notes of discussions I would like to have with my oncologist. It’s not too late for me, or for any of us, to ask the difficult questions and to take the time to understand.