Photos and text used with permission of
Mr. Vin McDonald.
I wish I never had been a Consumer Reviewer! Why? Because I had to have prostate cancer to be eligible! So being a Consumer Reviewer is a dubious distinction, but one that I am very proud of. Diagnosed and treated in 1997, I joined the prostate cancer support group at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a chapter of Us TOO, International. This led to my involvement with the Prostate Cancer Research Program within the CDMRP. I served as a Consumer Reviewer on three occasions, and my rewarding experience encouraged me to recruit nine other chapter members to serve as Consumer Reviewers.
As I sought recruits within my chapter, I soon learned that many men, otherwise highly qualified, had reservations about participation in peer review sessions dealing with scientific and technology issues within a panel of high-powered scientists. I knew the feeling - that was how I felt at my first peer review. But these fears are unfounded. At the end of my first session, a scientist, an MD and Ph.D. who had been very influential in our deliberations, stood up and extolled the role of the consumer reviewer, saying it gave him perspectives he otherwise would not have had. So if you have this understandable concern about participating in the PCRP, discard it and send in your application!
I subsequently became a member of the Consumer Working Group within the CDMRP. Its mission is to ensure the full and appropriate participation of cancer survivors in the peer review process. My experience within the group gave me further insight into the value of the CDMRP in the fight against cancer. The dedication and professionalism of the CDMRP staff never failed to impress me. The taxpayer's dollar is being well-spent in a noble cause - the eradication of cancer.