Many times each month I am aware that the news I’m about to give a patient is devastating. I am buoyed by the fact that a patient, despite going through what may arguably be the most difficult journey of their life, will benefit from prior research. But for the next patient with the same disease, we want to have better ways to diagnose and treat their cancer, and better ways to treat “the whole person.”
We are so fortunate to have a provincial cancer program that ensures the highest standards of care are provided and in an environment that is supported by research. Research is often a team effort. I get to work with great colleagues here in B.C. and maintain my relationships with colleagues around North America, knowing that we’re working towards a common goal.
So what do I want to do? Here in Kelowna, I want to further expand our clinical trials capabilities, offer a larger selection of clinical trials, and have more phase I and II clinical trials (the trials evaluating the newest anti-cancer drugs) for our patients. Over the 15 years that this centre has been open, the medical and radiation oncology and palliative care physicians have been very busy: over 200 clinical trials have been opened and almost 1,500 patients have been enrolled on a clinical trial. Since we know that patients treated in centres that have clinical trials have better outcomes, I want to increase the percent of patients that are on a clinical trial from 8% to over 12%, just as a start!
We also have an opportunity to ensure that our patients are represented in research that will help find better ways to diagnose and treat cancers. With the PREDICT biobank, we will make an enormous impact. In terms of the types of questions that we can pose, we are only limited by our imagination.
I am also interested in ensuring that all our patients get the benefit of better care, whether it be follow-up after treatment for cancer, or managing side effects of cancer. Some of my research is geared at ensuring that we can individualize treatments and follow-up.
I often go home knowing that, in the blink of an eye, my patients’ lives are forever shaped by cancer. We all share the hope of a better future with cancer.