“Still in the picture”. This is a phrase many of the women I met this weekend used when they held up their photo of “What Herceptin means to me”. Herceptin is a drug that we all received during our chemo therapy regimens for Her2Neu+ breast cancer. The company that called us to Chicago for the patient advisory council had asked each of us to bring along a photo of how this drug has impacted us. Most of us brought along a picture of ourselves with our family members or a photo of ourselves doing something that depicted us enjoying life. My picture was of me and Tim holding hands. Another woman brought a picture of herself on a zip line in Costa Rica. Another woman’s picture was of her newborn grandchild holding onto her finger. All of us said that this drug gave us a new lease on life and that it meant that we were “still in the picture”. For me it meant that as our children fly the ‘nest’ each year now, soon it will be just me and Tim and our future together. This drug means, for me, that I would be in that future! It means that I am ‘still in the picture’, not forgotten, not gone, like so many her2neu + breast cancer patients in the past.
If you have ever seen the Lifetime television movie called Living Proof , with Harry Connick Jr., that movie is about the making of the drug Herceptin and the doctor who fought so hard to bring it to ‘Her2 positive’ breast cancer patients who were dying before his eyes. Most of them young women, it is a powerful and intense film. It took 10 years to develop, test and get FDA approval for this drug. Now they are trying to determine how best to address & educate patient needs, oncologist’s understanding and delivery methods of this drug. This was the whole purpose of my weekend in Chicago this week. 15 patients were selected from all 4 corners of the country, all who are at various phases of treatment, some pre – treatment, some 3 months in, some 6 months in, some 11 months in and some, like me, who are 5 months out of treatment. Together we discussed brochure and booklet and web site information, how it is displayed, how it is worded, how best to get it into the hands of patients, how best to educate doctors and what some of the new advances in drug development are! (Sorry, I am bound by a confidentiality agreement on what those are 🙂 ) Suffice it to say that I felt it was a really productive weekend and the whole time I enjoyed being treated like royalty at one of the premiere Chicago hotels on Michigan Avenue!
Everything from limo service from the airport to cushy slippers at my bedside, it was fantastic! I made some new friends during the process too. Hearing their stories and seeing their fight and determination was an inspiration to me as well. We did a little site seeing & shopping around town too.
Back to reality this week, and tending to Keith who gets his wisdom teeth out today and tackling my 50 (yep! 50!!) outstanding orders lined up at my studio door. I’ll be staying home for a few days now.