As a 15-year breast cancer survivor, Lynne Cargen continues her fight against cancer as a research advocate at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. She works with Carlos Arteaga, M.D. and his team of researchers in the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Breast Cancer.
Cargen said that she has been committed to raising awareness and becoming an advocate for breast cancer since her diagnosis in 1996. “Dr. Arteaga’s invitation to become an advocate in the Breast SPORE provided me with the opportunity to direct my passion as a cancer advocate directly toward the research process,” she noted. “As a research advocate, it is the shared goal to partner with scientists to add the survivors perspective to the research process.”
Cancer survivors are not the only individuals participating in the Cancer Center’s research advocacy program. Caregivers, family members, health professionals and community members are also contributing to the research process and outcomes for future patients.
There are three main objectives for those participating as a research advocate. First one is to provide Vanderbilt-Ingram’s researchers an expanded perspective, since the research advocates are the ones who have personally experienced or been touched by cancer. Second is to help refine the nature of research questions, improve the choice of research tools and enhance outcomes so that research is meaningful and relevant to patients. The last objective is to assist in the development of patient oriented resources and tools for clinical trials.
For those interested in becoming research advocates, Cargen encourages you to educate yourself about your disease and the research process. “Through building education programs and reaching out to the community, we hope to dispel many of the myths of clinical trials and research.”
Please contact Jane Kennedy, manager of patient advocacy, at 615-936-1072 to learn more about Vanderbilt-Ingram’s research advocacy program.