Martha's Story continued...
How about a biological test? Surely we were looking for that, right?
Well, I wasn’t really enthusiastic, but I decided to at least ask some questions. I was beyond being embarrassed about seeming stupid and, to be honest, I just wanted to get this off my back. I just wanted to be assured that research was at least searching in this direction as it was working on treatment. It seemed only sensible to intercept the disease earlier. I was certain that the researchers were going to pat me on the head, assure me that everything was under control and send me on my way. I was more than happy to endure some humiliation in order to have some peace and to move on, knowing that this critical research component was well under control.
I was fortunate to secure a meeting with some very important people in breast cancer research. I was really nervous. I remember walking Sher before my meeting and thinking to myself, “Why are you doing this?” Thanks to Matilda, my answer always came back, “Because we have to just make sure. You never know until you ask.”
I was so anxious. Although I had prepared myself for feeling foolish, the researchers were very kind and patient. I told them that I just wanted to ask a few questions and, if they could answer them for me so that I knew this component of breast cancer research was being addressed, I would go away and not bother them anymore.
They looked at the questions. I’ll never forget their responses. One researcher said in answer to each question, “No. No. No.”
The next researcher said, ”You have identified a niche that is not being addressed.” I thought he was kidding.
No, he wasn’t kidding. In fact, we went to his computer to look at the grants that had been awarded by NCI / NIH for that year, and out of thousands of grants, we were hard pressed to identify one grant that was focused on finding a better method for earlier detection of breast cancer.
I left the office with my head spinning. What was I supposed to do now? I wasn’t prepared for “No.”
“OK, Sherlock and Matilda, the show is on and you have to run it,” I thought. “I don’t have the slightest idea about what I am supposed to do now and how I am supposed to do it.”