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When patients and scientists join forces: a story of hope




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On 19 October, World Breast Cancer Day is celebrated to remember the commitment of the entire society in the fight against this disease -the most common tumour in western women.


In 2019, 33,307 new cases of breast cancer have been diagnosed, according to the Spanish Association Against Cancer, AECC). This is the most frequent tumor in western women. As a reminder of the commitment of the whole society in the fight against this disease, theis celebrated every 19 October Word Breast Cancer Day.

We want to remember the importance of continuing to investigate breast cancer to better understand this disease and find new treatments by talking with with three members of the IRB Barcelona community who have much to say on this topic: Teresa Blasco, Cristina Figueras and Ester Lizandra.

Teresa Blasco and Cristina Figueras work together investigating breast cancer in the Laboratory for Growth Control and Metastasis of Cancer, led by Roger Gomis. Teresa joined the group this year, after completing her doctoral studies at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO). Cristina had also previously worked in cancer, and decided to start her thesis on breast cancer with a personal motivation: her grandmother overcame this disease years ago, when cancer was still a taboo subject.

Ester Lizandra joined the IRB Barcelona community after knowing through the media the work that was being carried out in this laboratory. “I read the news about the research on metastatic breast cancer carried out by Roger Gomis and his team, and I decided to write”, explains Ester. I couldn't imagine that the investigator himself would reply.

After a preventive mastectomy, and with only 3% of breast tissue, Ester was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago. Since then, she wanted to support the investigation of this disease, and it was Roger who put her in touch with Anna Merlos, fundraising officer at of IRB Barcelona.

Since then, Esther has been selling her hand-made bracelets, whose profits she donates to IRB Barcelona’s Metastasis Challenge to support cancer and metastasis research. In her birthday, she did not ask for gifts, but for donations for this cause. And he got 855 euros! "Who tells me that with that money they won't be able to find anything," she says.





A common front against cancer

Currently, the 5-year survival rate for this disease is greater than 90%. "However, it is necessary to continue investigating because it will be what will cure the disease 100%," says Teresa.

"I have overcome breast cancer, but there are many women who haven’t, and we must investigate to give them life and win the disease", says Ester. “We need to make a common front. Research is the first and most important step”.


Claims and thanks on World Breast Cancer Day

We asked the three of them what they would like to claim on this day, and the three of them agree: on policies focused on health and research. “A country that bets on research means progress and future, and improvements in health and treatments to improve the lives of patients,” says Cristina.

"I like the pink ribbon, it gives colour to a very dark disease, but it is necessary that we remember the sick people throughout the year," says Ester. "We need health, research and social policies."

For Ester, research is essential and only has words of thanks for scientists working in cancer, as well as for healthcare staff. "Thank you so much. Thanks to people like them who investigated the chemo with which I was treated, and thanks for the chemo they are investigating that will be used to treat future patients. The work they are performing is indispensable. ”


About IRB Barcelona

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) pursues a society free of disease. To this end, it conducts multidisciplinary research of excellence to cure cancer and other diseases linked to ageing. It establishes technology transfer agreements with the pharmaceutical industry and major hospitals to bring research results closer to society, and organises a range of science outreach activities to engage the public in an open dialogue. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 researchers and more than 30 nationalities. Recognised as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence since 2011, IRB Barcelona is a CERCA centre and member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).