Recently I had the great good fortune to learn about the Dr. Susan Love Army of Women Program. Wowsy bowsy. It’s really amazing and I am so excited to share it with you!
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is all about research (hence the name…DUH). They believe that the way to eradicate FBC (f-bomb breast cancer for new readers) is to understand its causes and the ways to prevent it. Makes sense, right? Well, one of the most effective ways to do research is by collecting data on real, live people. Mice just don’t suffice (didn’t mean to rhyme, but it’s actually kind of catchy!).
One of the things that I remember so vividly about my work in academic medical centers (where research is happening in virtually every office and the topic of many if not most meetings!) is that the recruitment of participants is SO HARD. Most people don’t realize this.
Research is not just about the clinical trials on the patients who have Stage IV metastatic disease (though this need is incredibly important!). Though “clinical trials” for people with Stage IV are what the general public seems to talk about the most (i.e., the last ditch effort to save a person’s life), it’s not the most significant source of research. I would argue that some of the best data (to understand the underlying causes of disease) comes from people who: have never had the disease, have the disease or are in remission.
So the goal of the Army of Women is to recruit one million women of all ages and ethnicities, including breast cancer survivors and those who have never had breast cancer to participate in groundbreaking research studies aimed at determining the causes of FBC – and how to prevent it once and for ALL (Silver Lining). They’re doing really well thus far. Since it’s launch in October of 2008, over 360,000 women have joined with close to 72,900 participating in 65 breast cancer studies.
People are always saying to me:
What can I do to help? I don’t want to just give money to an organization. I want to actually do something.
Well, let me tell you: signing up to be a part of the Army of Women is an action item that will enable you to be a part of something big. Really big.
So, how does it work? Any woman interested in joining the Army of Women can register at www.armyofwomen.org by providing some basic information including, name, age, city and state of residence. Army of Women members will receive email updates announcing new research studies along with a brief description. Members who fit the criteria and are interested in participating simply reply to the email. Participation in studies is NOT mandatory. There is NO PRESSURE whatsoever to participate in a study. If it works for you then great. If not, no worries.
For example, I received an email about a study that I really wanted to participate in (one about chemo brain), but was unable to commit to a weekly in-person appointment. I’m still on the list and will still receive opportunities to participate because there are many different types of studies.
Since launching, the response from women volunteers willing to participate in studies is overwhelming. Researchers have been able to recruit volunteers in hours or days rather than months or years it typically takes. This is a major Silver Lining.
If you want to do something, this is a wonderful-fantastic-terrific opportunity to do so!