Why I Fight | A message from Clare Wallis for National Cancer Survivors Day, June 6th
Life after cancer is about more than just survival. It’s not just the length of life that matters, but also the quality of that life. Join us as we #CelebrateLife and raise awareness of the challenges of cancer survivorship on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 6. #NCSD2021
Nobody Is Exempt
A couple of years back, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and it absolutely rocked my world. My gut reaction was: Not my Mum! I thought of all the reasons it should not be her: she’s too young, she’s too healthy, she’s too active. A logical defense reaction, but I knew all these defenses were ridiculous in the face of cancer. All our best efforts at living a healthy life, all the logical contributors to good health, have little impact on determining where cancer will strike next. My mother went through two surgeries, chemo, and radiotherapy. I know she must have suffered greatly, but I never heard her complain.
Cancer knows no boundaries.
Choosing Your Battle
I started working in oncology research as a CRA in the UK, and through the years, I’ve worked as a PM and a PD before moving into broader management roles. In more than 20 years in this industry, I have worked in global trial operations at all levels of drug development. In my current role as Senior Vice President at Worldwide Clinical Trials, I work to develop and train high-performing teams so that we can offer solutions to our sponsors that are nimble and flexible, while also aligning with global standards and capabilities.
It was my mother’s experience with cancer, as well as her treatment journey, that motivated me to shift in my therapeutic development career from a broader management role to my current focus on oncology specifically. My move to Worldwide Clinical Trials last year was a choice to return to oncology research as my sole focus. I found in Worldwide a fantastic team of like-minded individuals, each with their own unique story and motivation to join the battle against cancer.
Our Innovative Industry
Our industry is one of innovation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were truly challenged to apply our abilities in exciting new ways. Addressing patient safety under these new conditions, sponsors and sites developed new approaches to conduct remote visits by telehealth, using technologies that supported home-based testing and monitoring. I believe innovations have been developed that have advanced overall conduct of clinical research.
It gives me hope to see innovation in oncology therapeutics. I am encouraged about our future when I see how cancer treatments have evolved from almost exclusively cytotoxics and chemotherapies to targeted therapies. The big, new focus on immuno-oncology gives me further reason to be hopeful. We are now able not only to treat the illness but also improve the patient’s quality of life as they endure this process.
That’s why cancer research is so important to me. Through our work, we are contributing to the extension of life for cancer patients. But, beyond that, we are also developing new ways to improve the patient’s lived experience while undergoing treatment.
Tenacity Is My Not-So-Secret Weapon
I am happy and grateful to say that, after my Mum endured her cancer treatments, she is now stronger than ever. She went back to college, joined body slam classes, and started to focus more on her art hobbies. A local gallery has displayed her artworks, and she has even sold some of her pieces. I couldn’t be prouder of her courage. I like to believe that her tenacity is a family trait that I share with her!
That’s one battle won. While May is a month set aside for raising awareness for cancer research, I believe it’s important that we spread awareness all through the year. Cancer does not respect our lifestyles or our schedules. I am committed to fighting for a better future for cancer patients and proud to work with a team that is flexed and ready to show cancer who’s boss.