Conversation about Cancer Care Disparities

October 8, 2021, 1:05 pm -
1:50 pm
Understanding barriers to better research and treatments

Watch On Demand

Session Description

A cancer diagnosis is one of the most difficult challenges a person and their family can face in life. Unfortunately, this challenge is even greater for some communities with various barriers—limited health care access, fewer cancer screenings, diagnosis at later stages, fewer treatment options offered—preventing them from getting the best care possible. Patient advocates from the African American, Latino, and Native American communities join us for a discussion of racial disparities in cancer care, self-advocacy, and building a support network. They will discuss social determinants of health, limited resources (financial and otherwise), and difficult relationships with health care teams. Moreover, they will discuss finding organizations and resources for knowledge and support, seeking out a second opinion, finding a clinical trial, and ensuring that your voice is heard. Together, they believe in empowerment through education and that you can control your cancer journey.


Barry Nelson

Lung Cancer Veteran

In March 2012, Barry was diagnosed with advanced stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer and told he had months to live. He was already familiar with the radiation and chemotherapy that his initial treatment regimen included as he had watched and cared for many family members, including his mother, over the years. He experienced debilitating side effects, such as neuropathy, that confined him to his bed. In October 2013, Barry learned about an immunotherapy clinical trial using an immune checkpoint inhibitor, pembrolizumab (Keytruda®). After the first infusion, he immediately felt that the drug was working. After the third infusion, scans revealed that the tumors had shrunk by 25 percent. After two years on the clinical trial, his cancer remained progression-free, and he was able to actively enjoy his life again. In February 2021, Barry celebrated his five-year treatment-free anniversary. He lives his life with renewed faith and dedication to paying it forward through patient advocacy and volunteer work as a CRI ImmunoAdvocate.

Michaela Marchi

Colorectal Cancer Veteran

In 2016, Michaela gifted herself with an appointment with a genetic counselor to gain insight into why so many of her family members had been diagnosed and subsequently died of cancer. The genetic counselor found she has Lynch syndrome, an inherited mutation that leads to cancers of the colon and uterus at an early age. Two months later, she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and given 1-2 years to live. Michaela and her family did not accept this prognosis and, armed with their knowledge of Lynch syndrome, found an immunotherapy clinical trial of pembrolizumb (Keytruda®). After roughly one year on the trial, she has no trace of cancer in her colon. Today, Michaela introduces herself as a Mother Warrior Cancer Survivor: the first survivor in three generations on her mother’s Isleta Pueblo bloodline. She is proud to be a CRI ImmunoAdvocate and help others by sharing her story.


Karen Peterson

Breast Cancer Veteran

Following surgery and chemotherapy for stage 1 triple-negative breast cancer, Karen took charge of her cancer narrative by researching other treatment options and talking to experts during a brief period of remission. When her cancer returned in 2017—this time metastatic—she was facing a life expectancy of 18 to 24 months, but she was prepared to try something new. She enrolled in a phase 1 trial at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center combining two immunotherapies: bempegaldesleukin (BEMPEG; NKTR-214) and nivolumab (Opdivo®). Her first CT scan, after eight weeks of immunotherapy, revealed a 72 percent reduction in tumors. In June 2020, Karen’s oncologist declared her “an official complete responder.” Her cancer immunotherapy experience has impassioned her to become a patient advocate and CRI ImmunoAdvocate.

On-Demand Now Available

We are excited to announce that videos from our 2021 Cancer Research Institute (CRI) Virtual Immunotherapy Patient Summit are now available to view on demand.

The on-demand videos can be found on each session page from the agenda.