Many may know Shannon Miller was an Olympic champion in the 90s, but many don't know that she is also an ovarian cancer survivor. While she was crucial to the American Olympic Team, she is now teaming up with TESARO to spread awareness and support for the ovarian cancer community.
More about Shannon Miller
Seven-time Olympic Medalist Shannon Miller is, to this day, the most decorated Olympic gymnast in American history. Not only that, but she is the only female athlete to have been inducted to the US Olympic Hall of Fame twice.
While her athletic achievements speak for themselves, Shannon is also an expert in marketing and entrepreneurship, and even earned a degree in law. In 2010, Shannon launched her company, Shannon Miller Lifestyle: Health and Fitness for Women.
In 2011, Shannon was diagnosed with a very rare form of ovarian cancer, but fortunately her tumor was able to be removed successfully and she was diligent in intensive chemotherapy. While this was an extremely trying time, Shannon never ceased to inspire women, and used the experience as a platform to support others going through the same ordeal. These events led her to write It's Not About Perfect: Competing for My Country and Fighting for My Life.
Shannon is now cancer-free and continues to act as an advocate for those with ovarian cancer. She has recently decided to join with TESARO, and their 'Our Way Forward' platform, which offers resources and services to women with ovarian cancer.
What is TESARO?
TESARO is a public biopharmaceutical company devoted to developing new therapies for those facing cancer. They are focused on innovation and developing and commercializing treatments that other biopharmaceutical companies are not currently investing in. TESARO is committed to integrating treatment, and providing a line of communication between patients and pharmaceutical companies to best develop needed therapies and treatments.
Our Way Forward
'Our Way Forward' is a platform that was launched early in the year designed to enable access to resources and services for women who have ovarian cancer. As per TESARO's mission, 'Our Way Forward' illuminates communication barriers between patients and physicians, and uses national surveys to attempt to bridge this gap.
Recently, the 'Our Way Forward' website has been expanded. This expansion will feature many helpful resources both for those with ovarian cancer, and those close to them. This fall, when visiting the website, you will be able to find ovarian cancer educational programs and a unique storytelling event with "The Moth." The Moth is a nonprofit group that devotes themselves to storytelling, and respecting each facet of the art.
When asked in a press release how she got involved with 'Our Way Forward', Shannon Miller explained, "as an ovarian cancer survivor, I am well aware of the anxiety and fear that goes along with an initial diagnosis, as well as the fear of recurrence even after treatment. It's something that is always there. That's why I am thrilled to join TESARO to be a part of a program that directly addresses the unique challenges of women after an ovarian cancer diagnosis and those currently living with ovarian cancer."
She continues, "with 'Our Way Forward,' TESARO has demonstrated their commitment to women like me - and their families and caregivers - who are faced with the possibility of cancer returning. As new medicines become available to treat women living with recurrent ovarian cancer, programs to support women from an emotional and psychosocial standpoint remain equally critical."
TESARO is thrilled to have Miller onboard, as she will she her own personal story without excluding the risks that stay with a patient after diagnosis and treatment. This will be accessible to all via the new website for the program.
Other New Additions
Also, to be available on the new website will be more results from a national survey of patients, families, and physicians in order to expand the availability of resources, and act as a "call-to-action" for everyone in the ovarian cancer community, regardless of role. Examples of the new content are the need for emotional support of caregivers, first-person accounts of ovarian cancer from those living with it, and tips and tricks for empowerment and self-care for women with ovarian cancer, regardless of what stage they find themselves in.
The 'Our Way Forward' Survey
The survey was administered via an online platform between April 13 and May 2, 2017 in the United States. The participants consisted of 254 women with an ovarian cancer diagnosis who were living in the United States. However, it didn't end there. A parallel study administered between April 17 and May 5, 2017 drew the opinions of 232 ovarian cancer physicians in the United States, of which 201 were medical oncologists and 31 were gynecologic oncologists.
Results of the Survey
The 'Our Way Forward' survey exposed that over half of patients (53 percent) had experienced ovarian cancer severely or very severely altering their lives. Out of the patients who either are currently receiving treatment or have previously received treatment, approximately 49 percent conceded that they are not entirely certain which direction they should take their care in post-diagnosis, and find that to be either very or extremely challenging. Another big reveal of the survey was that more than two in five patients that are currently receiving treatment for ovarian cancer or have previously received said treatment are either very or extremely challenged by not being aware of what to expect during treatment (46 percent) or after treatment (47 percent).
Unfortunately, as Shannon Miller pointed out, it is very common for patients to experience recurrent disease after they have completed their treatment (85 percent), which can be extremely disheartening both for patients and their families. Even though many patients experience very high responses to chemotherapy, unfortunately, the effectiveness of the treatment does diminish over certain periods of time.
For a long time, women only had limited options about their treatment for delaying the progression of ovarian cancer. However, quite recently, maintenance treatments became available due to an overwhelming response to platinum-based chemotherapy.
Mary Lynne Hedley, PhD, is the president as well as chief operating officer at TESARO. She explains, "as the 'Our Way Forward' survey indicated, we as a community still have a long way to go to meet the needs of women with ovarian cancer. As a company, we measure our success by the number of patients and their loved ones that we impact in a positive manner. By offering expanded educational content that emerged from perspectives and experiences of patients, survivors and caregivers like Shannon, we are committed to addressing the physical and emotional challenges that ovarian cancer brings to women."
This commitment of TESARO is changing the way that many look at biopharmaceutical companies, and is positively impacting women with ovarian cancer across the country. They are proving that not only can biopharmaceutical companies be producing treatments that can assist in the battle against ovarian cancer, but they can also be dedicated to the wellbeing of patients, as well as those who love and take care of them.
If you are interested in learning more about the 'Our Way Forward' platform, please visit https://www.ourwayforward-oc.com and feel free to share the page with anyone who might need it.