Jan 31, 2023
Brenda Brody is a breast cancer survivor and host of the Your Stories: Conquering Cancer podcast from Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation. The public speaker discusses why she dedicates her time to volunteer service and patient advocacy, as well as fundraising for research through the Women Who Conquer Cancer (WWCC) program.
You received your diagnosis on Halloween in 2012. When were you declared cancer-free?
BB: Though my ‘cancer-versary’ is October 31, 2012, my oncologist and I agree that I was cancer-free on May 20, 2013, after completing chemotherapy.
How does being a breast cancer survivor fuel your patient advocacy and your support for Conquer Cancer?
BB: Being diagnosed with cancer was the scariest time in my life. I feel called to help guide patients, offer resources, and advocate for them the way my cancer mentors did for me.
Why do you volunteer as an event host for WWCC? What drives you to support this vital program?
BB: My friend Dr. Tina Annunziata invited me to attend a WWCC event six years ago. I was blown away by the impact these leaders have on women in oncology by supporting research grants. I knew from my experiences as a patient, marketing/events executive, and working with oncology organizations that I would add value to raising funds and awareness for this initiative. Also, I support WWCC in memory of the many loved ones I have lost to cancer.
Do you have a standout memory from hosting a WWCC event? What made this experience so meaningful to you?
BB: The first WWCC event I ever hosted was with Dr. Annunziata, her spouse Dr. Chris Annunziata, and Dr. Neelima Denduluri. They invited me to share my story and emcee the giving portion of our program. My friends and guests, Amy and Mike Aquilino, of the Aquilino Cancer Center, said they would give a $20,000 match if we could raise the money that night. Within 15 minutes, we went from $10,000 to raising more than $50,000. The energy in the house was incredible. It was so meaningful to be with others who believe in the impact of cancer research.
How can elevating gender equity in research benefit patients?
BB: As a woman in business, I have witnessed how women often make less than their male equals. I believe oncologists of all genders deserve equitable access to research opportunities and I’m honored to support equitable funding for women in oncology. When the best researchers are funded, the lives of patients can be extended and saved.
Why do you volunteer as a podcast host for Your Stories: Conquering Cancer? As a survivor and advocate, what makes this role so meaningful to you?
BB: Telling stories and helping others tell their stories has always been a passion of mine. The Your Stories podcast enables patients and researchers to candidly share their experiences and perspectives.
Whether a patient went in for an extra test and cancer was detected, or they felt emotionally understood while undergoing treatment, or they learned about a new drug—these kinds of stories can influence patients and survivors in so many positive ways and save lives.
What do you want donors and ASCO members to know about the impact of Conquer Cancer’s Grants & Awards program? What makes Conquer Cancer unique?
BB: These grants and awards support vital projects in underfunded areas of cancer research. I have seen firsthand how clinical trials extend lives. A close family member is living with metastatic stage IV prostate cancer. He was told he would pass away by 57. He is now 63 with a great quality of life. This is partially why I chose to participate in a clinical trial that tested the efficacy of trastuzumab for patients with HER2-low breast cancer. My trial did not lead to a new indication for trastuzumab, but I know how important being a clinical trial participant is for helping future patients and the advancement of science.
Conquer Cancer is unique to me as I have met and learned from many early-career researchers at the beginning stages of bringing ideas to clinical trials. Without the research, I would not be alive today.