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.