“So, how do you prevent cancer?”
That was by far the most common question I fielded while manning the booth at the annual American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Though many attendees approached with a hint of skepticism in their voice, once they heard the background on the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s work, they were on board with cancer prevention and early detection.
Nearly 40,000 attendees flooded the halls of the McCormick Place in downtown Chicago, the largest convention center in North America—all of the cancer community’s brilliant minds, passionate advocates and eager researchers could not have fit anywhere else. Our Patient Advocacy booth stood in the exhibit hall amongst a city-like network of bright lights and spinning attractions from colleagues and partners from around the world.
Physicians, nurses, researchers, pharmacists, epidemiologists, sales representatives, advocates, patients, survivors and caregivers all visited our booth. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with all of these different people.
Many visitors were from outside the United States and were excited to tell me they had just launched a prevention program in their home hospital or clinic. A young woman from Poland explained her clinic wanted to have a program for their cancer patients’ families to identify their risk and discuss available screening methods.
We debuted the revised Breast Health Education Guide, a facilitator’s guide to conduct breast health education sessions for young women, available in both English and Spanish. The Guide was a big hit and attendees were excited to visit our website to download it (one attendee even tried immediately on her iPad). Another attendee was overjoyed to see us there again and impressed to see the revised Breast Health Guide in Spanish. He is a physician from Peru and visits our website often for resources to use in his clinic.
It was an eye-opening experience manning the booth at ASCO and feeling small, but significant in the huge exhibit hall where you heard multiple different languages, met an incredible variety of people and walked the crowded aisles that were so full it felt like a Trader Joe’s on a Friday afternoon! My takeaways from ASCO were unity, hope and innovation. Those words will continue to influence the work I do every day at the Prevent Cancer Foundation® to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®