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Commentary

Standing Up Together

Sung A. Poblete
CJON 2018, 22(4), 371 DOI: 10.1188/18.CJON.371

Nurses represent the heart, soul, and future of the movement to end cancer. We are the ultimate collaborators. We interact across the spectrum of healthcare professionals, and we know the patients better than anyone. As the first line in the inpatient setting and the primary contact in the outpatient world, we often are the first to identify and document patient responses and the first to realize that something is off for a patient or family member. We do all of this while our patients face some of the biggest crises of their lives.

Nurses represent the heart, soul, and future of the movement to end cancer. We are the ultimate collaborators. We interact across the spectrum of healthcare professionals, and we know the patients better than anyone. As the first line in the inpatient setting and the primary contact in the outpatient world, we often are the first to identify and document patient responses and the first to realize that something is off for a patient or family member. We do all of this while our patients face some of the biggest crises of their lives.

Nurses have the responsibility to care for patients with cancer and to be involved in research programs that are creating new treatment options. To help nurses with these responsibilities, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) funds cutting-edge, collaborative, translational research with the world’s leading healthcare providers and scientists.

At SU2C’s helm are a group of eight influential women from the entertainment and media industry—and a nurse. My day job may be as the president and CEO of SU2C, but I am first and foremost a nurse. Nursing informs every aspect of my work, from collaborating with scientists to engaging donors and the general public to fund research. Together, my colleagues are using their bully pulpit, and I am using my nursing education to make cancer a first-tier issue in this country and, with our scientific advisors, change the culture of cancer research by breaking down silos and accelerating the translation of therapies from the laboratory to practice.

At SU2C, we support more than 1,500 researchers working together across 180 universities and medical centers and 85 companies. In addition, we fund individual grants as a means of bringing new scientists and their ideas into the realm of cancer research. More than $480 million has been pledged during the past 10 years in support of our innovative cancer research programs. Work by SU2C researchers has contributed to the approval of five new cancer treatments in the past 10 years, and several of our teams have submitted study results that are awaiting review. In all, more than 200 clinical trials have been launched through SU2C programs, including some of the first promising efforts in immunotherapy and cancer.

Cancer is a clever foe, and we need many approaches to defeat it. SU2C Catalyst® (https://bit.ly/2tXFlBQ) is a key initiative launched in 2016 that uses funding and materials from industry to explore new uses of potential compounds for cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. SU2C Catalyst is accelerating the development of new combination treatments, even combining drugs from different pharmaceutical companies. Through support from Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Genentech, 11 SU2C Catalyst projects were launched in 2017. This concept will expand to pediatric cancers in 2018, with early phase clinical trials providing foundational data for pediatric trials to progress in parallel with adult clinical trials.

SU2C is also the leader in cancer interception (https://bit.ly/2tWRN4z), which uses new scientific approaches to diagnose cancers at very early stages when they can be more successfully treated. The concept of cancer interception is the essence of nursing, focusing on wellness, prevention, screening, and early detection.

In addition, our televised fundraising special will take place on September 7 (https://bit.ly/2z2RM5b), with the goal of supporting research and new cancer treatments. I encourage you and your patients to tune in and learn about the scientific advancements being made and the hope that they bring to all who are affected by cancer.

How are today’s oncology nurses helping to pioneer new treatments? You are the ones who make the system work for patients. Medical science needs your continuing help to demystify clinical trials so more patients participate. As treatments become more complex, oncology nurses are the key to ensuring patient safety and treating adverse events. Our discipline makes the strange and overwhelming process of cancer treatment bearable for patients and their families as we bring them the best possible medicines and support.

About the Author(s)

Sung A. Poblete, PhD, RN, is the president and chief executive officer of Stand Up To Cancer in New York, NY. The author takes full responsibility for the content of the article. No financial relationships relevant to the content of this article have been disclosed by the editorial staff. Poblete can be reached at spoblete@su2c.org, with copy to CJONEditor@ons.org.