Cynthia Chauhan is a retired clinical social worker who has been an active cancer research advocate and support advocate for more than a decade. She is a survivor of renal cell carcinoma and breast cancer, the daughter of an ovarian cancer survivor, and the sibling of a melanoma survivor.
I became a patient advocate as an expression of gratitude for the excellent care I received for my two cancers, kidney cancer and breast cancer. An area of particular interest to me is educating patients, particularly kidney cancer patients, so they can become knowledgeable about their disease and become their own advocates. One of the ways I do that is by facilitating a kidney cancer support group, which provides individual support for people with kidney cancer and their caregivers.
To be an effective support resource for other patients, it is important that I keep current on the developments in the treatment of kidney cancer. One of the best ways for me to do that is to attend scientific meetings like the 2015 Genitourinary (GU) Cancers Symposium and learn from the experts in the field. Attending the GU Symposium also offered me the opportunity to network with other kidney cancer advocates from the United States and Canada.
Although my focus and volunteer work centers on kidney cancer, it was interesting to sit in on the sessions about other cancers as a reminder of all the research that is occurring that may have translational value between cancers. This also gave me the opportunity to talk with advocates who focus on other cancers.
The highlight of this year’s GU Symposium for me was the discussion about long-term survival for patients with stage IV kidney cancer. We are beginning to see people with a stage IV kidney cancer diagnosis living years, not months like they were previously, because of the number of therapies available and the ability of patients to move from therapy to therapy. This is truly exciting.
This meeting refreshed my knowledge, underscores my hope for patients to have life-improving and lengthening therapies, and reinvigorates my determination to support kidney cancer patients in seeking out the best care for themselves in a knowledgeable, thoughtful, proactive way. By attending this meeting, I am better prepared to be a resource to other patients as they face and deal with the tyranny of cancer in their lives.