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
(http://www.choosehope.com ). 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
Copyright© By Linda
I was given a gift,
wrapped shabbily, it was non-returnable,
Reluctantly I accepted it.
In it I found courage I never knew
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.
Center Coordinator, CCRC