Sponsored Content by Daiichi Sankyo
Dr. Mary Pinder-Schenck, Head of Global Oncology Medical Affairs, Daiichi Sankyo, shares what led her into medicine and how she and her colleagues support efforts to recognize the diversity of the breast cancer experience, to improve support programs and science.
Sometimes there are moments in your life that change everything. For me, this happened when I was 12. That was the year my stunning, wonderful grandmother died of metastatic breast cancer. She loved taking care of her family, taking care of patients as a nurse, and working in her garden.
Her death was a devastating loss for my family and, even though I was very young at the time, losing her to breast cancer marked a critical turning point for me. It changed the course of my life, putting me on the path to a career in medicine so I could try to find ways to help prevent other people with cancer from suffering like my grandmother.
After two decades as a medical oncologist, I’m thrilled that the steady march of science by researchers like those at Daiichi Sankyo has led to exciting progress in fighting breast cancer.1 These advances are helping patients live longer and I’ve seen many families benefit from them, including my own.2
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer – more than twenty years after my grandmother – she was able to overcome her early-stage disease. Though their diagnoses were separated by time, my mother and grandmother are examples of how two people can have very different experiences with this disease.
This is what we see every day in the breast cancer community: thousands of people who are united by a diagnosis but have their own story and unique needs, shaped by who they are and where they’re coming from, how advanced and aggressive their cancer is and what drives their tumors to grow. It’s important to understand the wide range of experiences to develop resources to meet the needs of all patients, particularly those who are underserved and need support.
Partnering to Improve Outcomes
At Daiichi Sankyo, we seek out partners who share our dedication to identify and address critical gaps in care to help improve outcomes for people with breast cancer. Our advocacy partners work tirelessly every day to provide resources to help these patients and we share their commitment.
One area of collaboration is related to addressing disparities in care among Black women, who are more likely to be diagnosed with metastatic disease and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.3 We joined forces with Living Beyond Breast Cancer to support their webinar series, “Knowledge is Power: Understanding Black Breast Cancer,” which gives patients practical knowledge to help them get the best care possible. And we are honored to sit on the Executive Committee of the Tigerlily Foundation’s Young Women’s RACE Alliance, which is focused on addressing disparities among women of color with metastatic breast cancer and is connected to our commitment to the Foundation’s Inclusion Pledge to end disparities.
Another area of focus and collaboration for us is metastatic disease, which presents unique challenges for many of the more than 168,000 people in the U.S. living with this advanced form of breast cancer.4 We support Susan G. Komen’s “Metastatic Breast Cancer Impact Series,” which offers people living with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones with monthly webinars to gather information and discover practical resources to help make decisions for improved physical and emotional health.
Through programs like these, we aim to provide access to information and support that will help empower people and optimize their care. Learn more about our work with advocacy groups and what they are doing to support the many faces of breast cancer here.
Ensuring Scientific Innovation is Focused on a Broad Range of Patients
Our way of approaching patient support is similar to how we approach the development of new medicines: with a range of patients in mind. We’ve come a long way since the time where chemotherapy was the main form of breast cancer treatment – as was the case when I first entered medical school, and when my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today, we’re in what many consider a personalized medicine revolution.5
We have a greater understanding of molecular biomarkers in breast cancer, which is helping us develop targeted therapies that enable us to tailor treatments to a patient’s specific breast cancer type.6 This has led to tremendous improvements in outcomes for many patients.7 Of course, the discovery of biomarkers and the development of novel medicines is only part of the story. To ensure as many people as possible are able to benefit from these advances, we must make our research and clinical trials inclusive, accessible and reflective of the wide array of patients we’re looking to treat, so we understand how these targeted medicines work in different people. This will help ensure that as many patients as possible can access and benefit from the personalized medicine approaches that are changing the treatment of breast cancer.
My grandmother got me into this field, and she and so many others keep me in it as I work to better the lives of people living with cancer. Our collective community, and all of my colleagues at Daiichi Sankyo, will continue to identify and implement solutions to help more people participate in breast cancer research and address persistent gaps in care to meet the diverse needs of people with breast cancer. We won’t stop until every person with breast cancer receives the care and support they deserve that enables them to live their best life beyond their diagnosis.