By: Dr. Laura Shawver, Founder of The Clearity Foundation
Ten years ago, I was recovering from chemotherapy following my ovarian cancer diagnosis. As a scientist and a cancer drug developer, I knew the odds. I also knew that progress in the treatment of ovarian cancer is literally decades behind what we have seen in other cancers. My drug treatment had been in use for more than twenty years and women today, ten years later, are still getting the same chemotherapy cocktail even though we know that it won’t work at all 25% of the time and it has a time-limited effect in most of the women that are initially helped. Worse yet, when ovarian cancer recurs, there is no guideline for selecting the next course of treatment for most women. There is also no standard for using the diagnostic technologies to personalize treatment that are now routine in other cancers like breast, lung and colon.
I founded Clearity in 2008 because I KNEW WE COULD DO BETTER. Since then, we have been empowering women with tumor blueprint information to help them more intelligently select among treatment options. For example, we lobbied for women to enroll in clinical trials with PARP inhibitors if they had a BRCA mutation in their tumor DNA, years before approval of these agents. We encourage women with low grade serous and clear cell ovarian cancer to enroll in clinical trials rather than receive additional chemotherapy where evidence shows it does not work. We let women know about their options for off-label treatment when no clinical trial exists. Clearity has always led the effort to choose treatments more rationally rather than by trial and error and we have never charged for our services thanks to our generous supporters. Until we succeed in improving the outcome for each woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I want Clearity to continue to be a source of support for patients and families, a true partner in the treatment journey, and an advocate fiercely dedicated to finding the best treatment option for each woman — not the options that are just routine or profitable or uncontroversial. Our assistance not only provides informed choices but gives women peace of mind and confidence during this battle.
Thank you to those who have contributed support services to a woman on her ovarian cancer journey for our “30 Days of Teal” campaign. We will be recognizing each of these generous donors every day during September’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Please check back with Clearity for stories of inspiration and hope and please consider lending your support to the women and families who are on this difficult journey. Together, we are bringing the future of precision medicine to women battling ovarian cancer today.