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My Experience with the AACR Scientist-Survivor Program

Updated: 2 days ago

The AACR Scientist-Survivor Program 


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting as a member of their Scientist-Survivor Program. 

The annual meeting brings together researchers from all over the world to share insights into data science, scientific discoveries, and therapeutic advances. These are just a few of the many areas covered by the meeting. It was a huge conference; 23,000 people!


The goal of the AACR Scientist-Survivor Program is to increase the understanding of what is happening in the science and research world for survivors of cancer and patient advocates and to improve collaboration between scientists and advocates. There were many topics covered in our sharing of perspectives, including the latest research findings and health policy changes and directions. The goal of the scientific community is that as patients and advocates, we will take what we learn and share it with our communities.


My Takeaways From the Meeting 


For me, the meeting was both amazing and overwhelming. I am not a person who moves much in the world of scientific research. So it was a lot for me to take in and try to absorb. I tried to focus on the key concepts that each of our presenters was sharing and not get caught up in the details of the science-y parts of it.


What I took away from all of it was how far the research has come in understanding what happens on a basic cellular level in cancer evolution, and how researchers are working to detect cellular changes at a much earlier level and intervene. The concept of cancer being a complex adaptive system that involves uncontrolled proliferation of cells and not just a site-specific disease that affects one particular area of the body was a key takeaway for me. 


My Advocacy Goals 


As part of my acceptance into this program, I was required to create a poster based on an abstract that I had written up in my application. I had many ideas and decided upon the topic of Lynch Syndrome. Lynch is a very common inherited genetic disorder that increases the risk of developing many types of cancer. I have Lynch Syndrome myself. Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems is that many people don’t know that they have it and many doctors don’t fully understand what it is! 


{Related: You can read more about my journey with Lynch and the history of the research here}


I presented my poster in the Exhibition Hall and had some really amazing conversations about this whole topic and what can be done to help to educate people about Lynch Syndrome. I am hopeful that moving forward, there will be more public health information that will result in fewer people being diagnosed with cancer.




My experience of attending the AACR Scientist-Survivor Program conference was very positive in so many ways. Now… it is my responsibility to take what I have learned and share it with other people who can also benefit from it!


As a cancer coach and counselor, I love working with survivors and sharing my experience in hopes that others will benefit from it.

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