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Photos and text used with permission of
Ms. Marty LaMarche.

Breast Cancer Research: Entering an Era of Hope
By Nancy K. Crevier, The Newtown Bee, Newtown, CT

"There is so much to be excited for," says Marty LaMarche of her recent involvement in the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program's Era of Hope symposium held June 8-11 at the Philadelphia Convention Center. As a consumer reviewer for the DOD BCRP, Ms. LaMarche had traveled to Washington, D.C., in August of 2002, where a panel consisting of herself, two other consumer reviewers (lay cancer experts with firsthand knowledge of the disease), and 20 scientists reviewed 60 breast cancer research proposals.

The Era of Hope meeting gave Ms. LaMarche the opportunity to hear the results of the research she has continually reviewed for the past three years. One of the stipulations of research funded by the DOD is that the results must be presented to the public.

Says Ms. LaMarche, "They want scientists to have public contact. It helps scientists put a face on their research." It is, according to Ms. LaMarche, a breast cancer survivor, research that if successful, "can move breast cancer research light years ahead."

What she found at the June symposium was a new perspective on how scientists are approaching the issue of breast cancers. "This is the first time I heard of breast cancer referred to as the 'spectrum of breast cancer diseases," she said. "You're not just looking for a lump."

Hearing the repeated mantra, "210,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the US and 40,000 will die of the disease," was a constant reminder of the importance of the outside-the-box research being undertaken, says Ms. LaMarche. "It seemed every other speaker started out with that [statistic]." That being said, the most important message she believes she returns home with is the importance of continuing this unique research.