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News Archive - Progress Newsletter Winter 2002 Online

Survivor Serves as Consumer Reviewer for Department of Defense Grants
By Deanna Beyer, M.S., R.N.
Twelve-year breast cancer survivor

Those who have lived with, through and beyond the experience of having cancer often develop a desire to help others who are newly diagnosed. This has been described as the concept of the veteran helping the rookie.

Recently I had an opportunity to help on a broad level by serving as a Consumer Reviewer for the Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program.

Several research panels met in Washing-ton, D.C., in August to review more than 1,200 national and international research proposals aimed at the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Proposal review includes a two-step process of scientific and programmatic review. Each scientific panel consisted of 20 scientists and two consumer reviewers. Since the inception of the DOD Breast Cancer Research program in 1992, over $1.04 billion has been awarded for innovative research proposals. The budgeted amount for the current year is $175 million.

"Researchers working with test tubes and slides can become somewhat removed from the human side of cancer. Consumer reviewers put a face on cancer and have an ability to put fire in the belly of researchers."

The development of the DOD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs was the result of grass roots efforts and increasing public awareness. Because of this, consumer reviewers, who are advocates for issues of breast cancer, have been included on the decision-making panels. As the medical director of the program stated, "Researchers working with test tubes and slides can become somewhat removed from the human side of cancer. Consumer reviewers put a face on cancer and have an ability to put fire in the belly of researchers."

In my own lifetime I have experienced the tremendous difference medical research has made with the treatment of breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed in 1950. At that time, treatment options were extremely limited and basically consisted of radical disfiguring surgery or benign neglect. Her disease progressed rapidly, and she died in 1952. When I was diagnosed in 1989, I benefited from tremendous progress in treatment that had been made as the result of medical research. I had multiple treatment options from which to choose, and the potential for cure was very hopeful.

Progress for future advances in the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer continues to be very hopeful. It was very exciting to have an opportunity to have a voice in the selection of research proposals that could have a tremendous impact on the future health of women, including my own daughters and granddaughters.

The Cancer Center congratulates Deanna on being selected as a consumer reviewer for breast cancer research grants.

 

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