I am a five-year survivor of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). I had a bone marrow transplant in 2000 and have been in molecular remission since 2001.
I was originally invited to the CML Peer Review Panel in November of 2002. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society nominated me, due to my involvement in delivering patient services in the state of Vermont. I was pleased and honored when the CDMRP asked me to participate in a second Peer Review Panel in April 2004.
I am not a scientist. and in fact, did not know much about medical research until my diagnosis. As a patient, I realized there was a need for more information and more support for those who are dealing with cancer. Since my diagnosis, I have done my own research and have learned so much from the people I have met that are involved with leukemia - scientists, health care professionals, and other patients.
The entire Peer Review process (both the review of the proposals and the actual panel meetings) was very inspiring to me as a patient. It allowed me to learn more about my disease, and to see how much progress medical research has already made in finding a cure. More importantly, it demonstrated how much more work is needed.
I was impressed by the number of people involved in research that were requesting funding, and by the quality of their work. I was even more impressed by the individuals who were serving on the Peer Review Panel with me. After each session, I was told by many of the scientists that the consumer reviewers (the three CML survivors on the panel) were an inspiration to all of the scientists on the panel...that we helped them see the importance of what they are doing. My reply was that they were an inspiration to me. The intelligence and commitment of everyone on the panel - all extremely dedicated to finding a cure - has convinced me that there will soon be a cure for CML.
It is this message of hope that I brought back from the panels and continue to share with the people in my community.