By Staci Vernick at 27 Feb 2020, 09:46 AM
“Remember, you have cancer, it doesn’t have you. Though it is scary, you have to get into fight mode and maintain positivity. Keep fighting, warriors. We belong to a group of fellow brothers and sisters who will get through this.”
This rallying cry of courage and inspiration, written anonymously on the Gateway for Cancer Research Honor Wall brings to life the organization’s mission to fund early-stage research to help those living with cancer to feel better and live longer, as we seek to end cancer as we know it. We are inspired by the voices of cancer patients, caregivers and loved ones who have posted courageous messages on the Honor Wall.
Hundreds of messages together paint a picture of hope, compassion and determination in this community we all belong to. By giving those living with cancer a voice, the Honor Wall has personified Gateway’s priority to fund research with robust, patient-centered outcomes, and the greatest potential to transform the standard of cancer care and improve quality of life.
“My friend, who I call my brother, was diagnosed with a rare cancer in his brain,” another Honor Wall post reads. “The initial prognosis was not positive. He enrolled in a clinical trial and continues to fight the cancer beyond the time any of his doctors thought was possible. His journey demonstrated the value of clinical trials and connects directly to the mission of Gateway. His presence in my life is a great gift.”
Collectively, we are making great strides in ending cancer as we know it. The mortality rate from cancer in the US continues its 26-year downward trend, including a 2.2 percent drop in 2016, the largest single-year drop ever, according to the American Cancer Society’s annual Facts & Figures Report for 2020. Simply put, close to three million cancer deaths were avoided since 1991, due in large part to research advances that have led to more effective treatments, such as new immunotherapy approaches and targeted therapies.
Early-stage, Phase I and Phase II clinical trials like those funded by Gateway are the front lines of treatment advancements; they are the testing grounds for new drugs, combination therapies with existing drugs and other technologies. Phase I trials focus on safety and finding the best dosage and means to administer a new treatment. Phase II trials test whether and how well a new therapy works.
Those who participate in early-stage clinical trials join their physician-researchers at the vanguard of discovery. Choosing to join a patient-centered clinical trial and take a promising approach empowers patients to fight their disease on their own terms. They help pave the way for another patient’s journey.
“Vicki, you are one amazingly strong and tough woman,” writes another caregiver on the Honor Wall. “You are aggressively attacking your cancer and living life to the fullest in the meantime. Don’t ever give up. Love you.”
The individuals at the heart of a clinical trial play a critical role in advancing cancer treatments and cures on behalf of all of us. The Honor Wall has introduced so many who persevere despite pain, remaining optimistic in the face of cancer’s challenges. We at Gateway want to thank those who posted on the Honor Wall and we are so grateful for everyone that shared their story.
“(I am) so thankful to have my doctors, nurses and research team taking the best of care of me,” a patient writes. “Primary cervical (cancer) in 2016, now Stage 4 METS to the lungs in 2019. So thankful for my life. This will be a hard road.”
They inspire others …
“My daughter, Stacy, has been fighting metastatic breast cancer for five years now. She shows us bravery, courage, strength, and joy through the chronic pain and uncertainty about her health. She is my hero.”
And support one another …
“I want to honor my little buddy Dayton. He is five years old and he has overcome many obstacles to show me what true courage, love, joy and compassion is all about. When we spend time together playing he will ask me if I’m doing OK, then smile at me and hold my hand. With a face like that he will say, ‘It’s OK. We have plenty of time.’”
They are a constant reminder of the strength and resiliency of the human spirit.
“Not only did my 86-year-old mama face Stage 4 lymphoma, chemo, immunotherapy and dementia, she went into complete remission after three chemo and four immunotherapy treatments.”
To honor someone you care about who has faced cancer or who has supported you on your own journey, please visit The Honor Wall today.
Current Gateway-funded clinical trials
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