Supporting access to clinical trials in stomach cancer

Jul 15, 2020
Supporting access to clinical trials in stomach cancer

Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer has awarded $1 million in research grants since it was formed 10 years ago, yet access to clinical trials remains a challenge for many people, says Andrea Eidelman, Chief Executive Officer at the patient advocacy group.

Clinical trials are a crucial route to treatment, but access is often hard to find and difficult to navigate. For stomach cancer patients, who are often not diagnosed until stage four, this can prove to be a complex and difficult situation. “Accessing trials can be a challenge depending on the patient’s geographic location,” Andrea notes. “Many people do not have access to the larger centers, which see more cases of the disease and have expertise in managing it.”

Many people have no option but to re-locate if they want to participate in a clinical trial, a decision that has ramifications for the whole family, she adds.

Matching service for clinical trials

DDF offers help in the shape of its Clinical Trials Matching Service. Patients and caregivers complete a short questionnaire online, and the online portal uses this information to recommend all relevant trials and help people search for and connect with research sites.

This work is essential to DDF as its ultimate aim of finding a cure for stomach cancer is coded into its DNA. It was founded in 2009 by mom-of-three Debbie Zelman, who, at the age of 40, was told she had stage four stomach cancer and given a five-year survival probability of just four percent.

“One of her greatest purposes was to increase the research funding for stomach cancer and for there to be more treatment options and, hopefully, better outcomes for people suffering from this disease,” says Andrea.


Supporting access to clinical trials in stomach cancer

Andrea Paula Eidelman is the Chief Executive Officer of Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer. Andrea brings a lifelong commitment to advocating for those in need, and has been actively involved in the South Florida community serving on boards and committees of various local medical charities.

A lawyer, with a degree from St. Thomas University, Andrea spent most of her legal career relentlessly advocating for the rights of underprivileged populations, specifically the rights of foster care children and children in need of legal representation due to abandonment, abuse, or neglect by biological parents.

While at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Andrea oversaw the local legal aid program, which provided legal services and representation to thousands of underprivileged residents. She went on to provide children’s advocacy at Legal Aid Services of Broward, where she headed the Permanency Project and advocated for the rights of hundreds of children in Florida’s foster care system, assisting them in obtaining permanent homes outside of the system with committed loving caregivers. In addition, she worked in the Kinship Project at Legal Aid of Broward where she collaborated with private and public partners to assist relatives in adopting and obtaining custody of children who would otherwise end up in the fate of the state’s dependency system.

Andrea’s vision as an advocate for children helped guide numerous community organizations including Kids in Distress, Harmony, Memorial Hospital, Broward Health, and Mental Health and Associates to accomplish the goals of the grant funder Children’s Services Council. In addition, she worked as a case manager for Health and Rehabilitative Services in Miami-Dade County assisting terminally ill HIV/AIDS patients in obtaining support services.

Andrea’s non-professional life has also been committed to advocating for those in need. She has served on the board of the American Lung Association and Bellas Kinship Group. Andrea was a dedicated DDF volunteer prior to becoming its Executive Director.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina,  Andrea grew up in Miami, Florida and is a graduate of the University of Miami. She is married to Dr. Frank Eidelman and they reside in Fort Lauderdale Florida with their cat Toby.

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