Cancer Communication Research Center

“I am a wife. A mother. A sister. A best friend. Remember this.”


This was the impassioned plea of Linda Nielson, a 15 year breast cancer survivor who spoke at the opening reception of the 2012 annual meeting of the five Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research in Madison, WI.  Linda's talk, "Positive Unintended Consequences of Clinical Trial Participation," provided the 90 cancer communication researchers gathered for the meeting a unique perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of participating in breast cancer clinical trials.  As with any cancer diagnosis, difficulties abound.  In addition to the physical and emotional trials of her cancer, Linda has volunteered for countless clinical trials since her diagnosis, including a dosage trial that left her so ill her physician insisted that she withdraw from it.  

Her determination to contribute to cancer research remains unabated, and Linda counts many advantages of her diagnosis and her engagement with the world of cancer research, the most rewarding being the unexpected: she has met life-long friends through her engagement with the CHESS breast cancer support tool (currently being implemented at Kaiser Permanente in CO), and she is a co-founder and principal in a successful business manufacturing and distributing cancer support promotional materials ( ).  Linda also has a mission to help keep the cancer patient front and center in the minds of every cancer care provider, clinician, and researcher she meets.

On Wednesday morning, two days after Linda's talk at the opening reception, 90 cancer researchers gathered for the last time at the meeting in Madison.  NCI's Bob Croyle asked a panel of senior researchers representing the five CECCRs to reflect on what could be done in future research initiatives like the CECCR to quicken the start-up phase of the research.  Several scientists agreed that aligning priorities, knowledge, and language among the disparate foci of the Centers would hasten effective cross-fertilization of ideas and collaboration.  Then in a return to the theme of the opening reception, UW's Dave Gustafson reminded us to first and foremost consider carefully the lives and challenges of the customers we serve, the human beings who are cancer patients, who are also mothers and wives, sisters and best friends.

A Gift

Copyright© By Linda Nielsen

I was given a gift,
wrapped shabbily, it was non-returnable,
Reluctantly I accepted it.

In it I found courage I never knew existed
and a patience far beyond anything ever experienced.
I was given the ability to trust a stranger with that most
dear to me, and an endurance for the unknown.
I was given unconditional love of family and friends,
always there, never stopping, never faltering.
I was given many prayers from far and wide,
and the warmth of knowing I am truly cared about.
I was given a fond farewell of my modesty and vanity,
and the acceptance and love of an imperfect body.
I was given a strong shoulder to lean on
when that shoulder had once grown distant,
and laughter and good times, more special than ever before.
I was given many new friends,
wonderful, courageous women I am so very proud to know.
I was given warm sunshine and beautiful green grass,
blue skies, and sparkling city lights.
I was given things to see,
that once before were ignored.
I was given the chance to wake up,
instead of sleepwalking through life.
I was given every glorious day to enjoy,
every month to savor, every year to rejoice.
I was given the gift of life,
I was given breast cancer.


Sarah Madrid
Center Coordinator, CCRC

Written by CCRC at 16:10




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