Science meets survivorship

I’m preparing to head downstairs in the Philadelphia Marriot Downtown to make a presentation to attendees at a special reception honoring The Alabama Project. The event is being hosted by Cancer Today and the AACR Foundation in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Due to space constraints, I’ve brought just 8 of the 16 photos in the exhibit. These poignant and beautiful images are hung along the hallway through which all conference-goers pass. I like to think they bring a kind of humanity to sessions that focus on the science of cancer research. The faces of Whitni, Brittney, Debbie, Essie and others remind researchers of the people with stakes in the work they do every day.

Tonight, I’ll be speaking briefly about three ways in which the photos, and the women’s stories that accompany these photos, reveal the marriage of science and survivorship. As a survivor for more than two decades, I recognize in their experiences the many advances that have influenced the diagnosis, treatment and survival of breast cancer.

Specifically, I’ll mention advancements in science that address a survivor’s age (young women like Leah Price Wrensted not only get breast cancer, but also often have more aggressive forms of the disease), identity (African American women are disproportionately diagnosed with Triple-negative breast cancer, a less predictable breast cancer sub-type) and access (not all survivors have equal access to scientific advancements).

I hope the stories and images I share tonight will sufficiently reveal the strength and beauty of each of the Alabama women. I’m hopeful, too, that they encourage us all–scientists, advocates, physicians–to keep the conversation going about how science meets survivorship.

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