These researchers dedicate their careers to finding new treatments and cures for people with cancer.
Women Who Conquer Cancer did not exist in 2002 when Dr. Hershman received her Conquer Cancer Career Development Award (CDA). "At the time I received the CDA, very few investigators were funded to do clinical research," explains Dr. Hershman.
"The CDA was very important for me because It was my first multi-year grant, and I got it within the first year of accepting a faculty position. It is particularly important as a woman to have independent funding. It gave me confidence to continue pursuing other grant opportunities, it gave me funding for my first trial, and I am sure having it on my record helped me get additional grants."
While conducting a multicenter trial, her studies revealed preventative measures to reduce bone loss and preserve fertility in young women undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The trials also provided an opportunity to work with other researchers, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where Dr. Hershman now trains junior investigators. "If it were not for that initial CDA, I would not have had these opportunities," shares Dr. Hershman.
"I had a patient with hormone sensitive breast cancer, and we recommended that she take an aromatase inhibitor. Despite the known benefits, she would come to her appointments in tears from the joint pain and stiffness from the medication," recalls Dr. Hershman.
Dr. Hershman was running a trial testing acupuncture use in patients. The patient enrolled, and the treatment improved her symptoms, allowing her to stay on life-saving medications. Not only did the research improve the outcome for this patient, but the trial discoveries sparked change from which many people will benefit. As a result of Dr. Hershman's research, more insurance companies began covering the cost of acupuncture therapy.
Dr. Hershman has received multiple grants and awards during her illustrious career. Now that she is in a position to give back, she supports the Women Who Conquer Cancer program in hopes that the women oncologists coming behind her have the funding they need to significantly improve patient care.
"Women often face more challenges regarding time constraints early in their careers and having protected time to stay in academics is key. Despite awareness, women are often not promoted at the same rate, and at the highest levels of administration, women are under-represented. Keeping talent in the academic workforce is the best way to fix that problem."
Dawn shares why she chooses to support Women Who Conquer Cancer: "Every year I donate to the Women Who Conquer Cancer program to help another female investigator receive the funding that helped me. These awards are truly transformative! Together, we can change the future by investing in smart, creative women investigators whose work will have a lasting impact."