Last year, the Cancer AnswerLine ™ nurses had the opportunity to start working with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer and Advocacy Committee. When I attended my first meeting with this group, I was pleasantly surprised. I had a pre-conceived notion this would be a group of women working on a smaller scale like hosting bake sales to raise money for breast cancer. Instead, I found that this group of smart women has really made an impact on breast cancer treatment. They are currently looking for new members.
About the BCAC
The Breast Cancer and Advocacy Committee members are breast cancer survivors who provide input to University of Michigan researchers as they design new studies. According to Maria Lyzen, co-chair, “Our goal is to represent the patients’ point of view: How can we make it easier for patients to participate in a clinical trial? Could a researcher consider reducing the number of scans required for a study so that a patient would only have to travel to the Cancer Center three times instead of four times?”
Ruth Freedman, co-chair, provides an example of a project the group worked on. “We learned from an excellent U-M occupational therapist that many insurance companies don’t provide adequate coverage for treatment of lymphedema, a common side effect of breast cancer surgery that causes painful swelling in the arms. We worked with this occupational therapist to gather scientific evidence to show that certain interventions to treat this condition should be covered by insurance. We convinced the U-M to include this coverage for its employees — both going forward and retroactively. We hope that this will become a model for other insurance programs.”
Survivors often do not want to think about their cancer after treatment has finished. However, being a cancer advocate can be a positive and empowering experience to help others. Serving on a committee like this:
- provides support to those living with cancer
- raises public awareness
- advances cancer research
- improves the quality of cancer care
- addresses legislative and regulatory issues that affect cancer care and research
The Breast Cancer Advisory Committee is devoted to making a difference in the future of breast cancer.
Take the next step:
- View this Cancer Center article, Demanding Better: How to become an advocate, and get a list of resources.
- Read Patient advocates help shape cancer research agenda which tells the story of Maria Lyzen’s journey from nurse to patient to advocate.
- Our award-winning patient magazine Thrive has numerous stories of patients who have become advocates. Their stories are in our Advocay section.
Still have questions? Call the nurses at the University of Michigan Cancer AnswerLine™. They can help patients or their loved ones find a clinical trial or provide insights into the newest and latest cancer treatments. Feel free to call at 1-800-865-1125 or send an e-mail.
The Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses are experienced in oncology care, including helping patients and their families who have questions about cancer. These registered oncology nurses are available by calling 800-865-1125 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Your call is always free and confidential.
The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.