DBCC launches Clinical Trials Initiative

Clinical Trial Peer Mentors from left to right: DBCC Board 

Member Beth Selsor, Lorraine Gilson, Fa Field, and
DBCC Program Director Cathy Holloway.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) recently launched its Clinical Trials Initiative as a continuation of the state-wide Peer Mentor program that was started at DBCC in 2006.  A Clinical Trial Peer Mentor Training Program was developed by Nanci Mayer-Mihalski, Chair of Research and Mentoring Committee and Board Member at DBCC, DBCC Program Director Cathy Holloway, and Kandie Dempsey, Director of Cancer Research at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.

In September of 2010, DBCC was presented with the prestigious Community Excellence Service Award as part of Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center’s Annual Community Clinical Oncology Awards for its support of clinical trials in the community.
Clinical Trial Peer Mentors from left to right: Patti Rossi, DBCC

 Program Manager Lois Wilkinson, and Gail Lanouette.

Just two months later, DBCC trained its first group of Clinical Trial Peer Mentors which includes six survivors representing all three Delaware counties.  According to Cathy Holloway, the Clinical Trial Peer Mentor Training Program “is designed to dispel myths and misconceptions associated with research and clinical trials.  The goal of the program is not to tell breast cancer patients to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to clinical trials but to educate them about clinical trials and give them more information so they can make informed decisions.”  Clinical Trial Peer Mentors are survivors who have attended peer mentor training, have participated in clinical trials, and have completed the comprehensive, in-depth Clinical Trial Peer Mentor Training.  As the program expands, DBCC hopes to have three to five Clinical Trial Peer Mentors trained in each county.

DBCC Board Member, Beth Selsor, attended the first Clinical Trial Peer Mentor training.  Beth was a participant in two clinical trials during her breast cancer treatment.  “I was fortunate to have good counseling and advice through my trials and wanted to be able to help other women after me.  I want to be able to answer questions for them and be a good resource,” she said.
DBCC Program Manager Lois Wilkinson and Kelli Meoli.

Clinical Trial Peer Mentors assist patients with deciphering details and complex paperwork associated with clinical trials, answer questions about how patients are protected and any other questions those considering clinical trials have.  Above all, they share their own clinical trial experience.  “I think one of the most important things people need to know is that a clinical trial is real medicine,” Beth explained.  “I know something I was worried about was that I’d be given a placebo, but this medicine is real and it is going to help them.  Health care professionals are just trying to figure out what the best treatment for people is.”

Researchers and the medical community recognize the need for trained advocates and their support role to the clinical trials process.  The Clinical Trials Initiative was started by DBCC to help increase patient awareness, understanding, and enrollment in clinical trials to advance breast cancer treatment and care. 
For more information about DBCC and clinical trials, please click here.  For more information about the Peer Mentor Support program, please click here.
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