A Quiet Hero for Patients With Cancer

Extraordinary Healer®, CURE® Extraordinary Healer® Vol. 16, Volume 16,

Not only have Margaret Campbell's, own patients benefited from her dedication, but so many patients in the United States and around the world have access to better treatments due to her contributions.

Margaret Campbell, B.S.N., RN, has worked as a research nurse in the breast oncology program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for almost two decades. During this time, she has cared for countless patients on numerous clinical trials.

I call her a “quiet hero” because she is not the person presenting the trial data from the podium, she is frequently not listed in the authorship of manuscripts and she does not get the credit or glory when new trial treatments are shown to benefit patients and enter into the standard of care. But her incredible dedication to her patients and her ability to balance patient obligations with the demands of the trials allow these clinical trials to be completed and new advances to be made.

She has cared for patients in multiple practice-changing clinical trials, including trials testing the combination of paclitaxel and (Herceptin [trastuzumab]) in early HER2-positive breast cancer, trials testing Tukysa (tucatinib) in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, trials testing Trodelvy (sacituzumab) in triple-negative and ER-positive breast cancer, trials testing Enhertu (trastuzumab deruxtecan) in HER2-positive or HER2-low metastatic breast cancer, multiple immunotherapy trials, and more. She has expertly cared for patients with early-stage breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer.

At our institution, research nurses play many roles, including working with oncologists to identify potential clinical trials for patients, assessing for clinical trial eligibility, reviewing consent documents with the patient, working with research schedulers to coordinate the complex choreography of tests and treatments, evaluating patient symptoms and treatment- related toxicities, assisting in the documentation of side effects and, most importantly, serving as a resource to patients.

From a patient perspective, research nurses are the “face of the clinical trial,” as they patiently answer questions, guide patients through complex schedules and help manage symptoms. Margaret provides reassurance and comfort to trial participants, and they know they are being cared for compassionately and meticulously.

I have witnessed how Margaret always goes above and beyond in communicating with patients and delivering outstanding clinical care. She takes extra care to make sure that all trial requirements are met, while also asking patients about other commitments (vacations, graduations, weddings) so that the scheduling can be adjusted to accommodate important events in patients’ lives. She advocates for her patients in ways big and small. In short, she cares for the whole person. Trial participants develop deep connections with her, and some still ask about her years after they have completed a clinical trial.

In addition, because research nurses support many oncologists, any one research nurse might see more patients receiving a specific trial treatment than any one oncologist. Research nurses are often our “eyes and ears” in terms of unexpected toxicities or initial signs of benefit, and she certainly has also excelled in this regard. Finally, I just love working with Margaret.

I could not be more thrilled about the opportunity to write this nomination letter for Margaret Campbell in appreciation for her nearly two decades of service to patients with breast cancer on clinical trials. Research nursing has become only more complex and more demand- ing over time, and I am beyond appreciative that she has chosen to dedicate her career to clinical research. Not only have her own patients benefited, but so many patients in the United States and around the world have access to better treatments due to her contributions.

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