In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Cancer Act, Dr. Elizabeth Prsic shares her motivation for pursing a career in cancer research:
What brought you to work in cancer research?
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in middle school. Soon after, I started volunteering at a cancer center, assisting in the mammography suite. Eventually, I began collaborating with cancer-related research.
Cancer is in a sense, part of the essential nature of who we are as humans. With the replication of every cell, the chance of mutation presents. Our job is to not only treat cancers, but to prevent them. My focus is on supporting patients with cancer, through treatment-associated toxicities, disease-related symptoms, and also addressing the needs of families and caregivers.
Through my clinical training, I found the most meaning and passion in caring for hospitalized patients with cancer, and supporting them through their disease, its complications and treatment.
Where do you see the future of cancer research?
The future of cancer research is in further targeted and precise therapies to treat individual patients. Cancer is not and never has been one size fits all.
I hope the future of cancer care presents further opportunities for enhanced screening, prevention and individualized therapies, with fewer adverse effects for patients.
What are some of the advances you have seen so far during your career?
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, the BRCA gene had not been discovered. Today, my family has the ability to not only identify carriers of the gene, but also opportunities to screen, prevent and individualize therapy should cancers related to this mutation develop.
One of the reasons I chose oncology was the incredible opportunity for scientific growth and discovery, and very real and direct outcomes for patients and their families.
Why is it so important to encourage younger and diverse groups to pursue a career in cancer research?
Cancer is one of the ultimate challenges of the human condition. With every replication, there is the opportunity for mutation. In cancer research, you have a formidable opponent and a diverse, passionate army of colleagues around the world to support you and your work. Cancer research provides continuous challenges and opportunities to learn, and to improve the lives of patients around the world.
Each individual in the oncology workforce has a unique and impactful story about why they work in cancer research. The National Cancer Institute invites you to share your story of what drives you to work in cancer research and has developed the hashtags #ThisIsWhy and #NothingWillStopUs. Together, let’s inspire the next generation of diverse talent to join us in the fight to end cancer as we know it!