Susan G. Komen for the Cure is continually expanding its Global Initiatives and Orange County Board President Chris Tannous is an active participant. At the 2010 Conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, Tannous joined in a roundtable discussion sharing best practices in patient services, outreach and education with the Breast Cancer Network Japan – Akebono-kai. This was an opportunity to start a dialog with a well-established breast cancer organization in Japan.
At the Conference, Tannous was on a panel along with two medical oncologists, two breast cancer survivors and a translator. The primary areas of discussion were: talking with your doctor, employment issues and patient support services.
Highlights of the discussion included the fact that in Japan a patient would never take someone with them to an appointment, but would instead use a tape-recorder to record the session to share with anyone else. They were surprised to learn that there is an organization like the Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC) that can help cancer patients with employment issues. In Japan, there is no such organization and they were interested in learning more. Although Akebono-kai is celebrating its 30th anniversary, it is only recently that they considered involving spouses in their programs. The notion of “co-survivor” was completely new, but an avenue that they intend to explore further. Finally, there was the realization that advocacy comes in many forms – research, fundraising, public policy, patient support and outreach and education. Although they focus on patient support and outreach and education, they are ready to expand their advocacy efforts.
Tannous, a breast cancer survivor and Komen Advocate in Science, is hopeful that the connection might lead to a global partnership — everyone involved is interested in future collaborations and sharing of best practices.