Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2023: Let’s Reimagine Clinical Trials

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2023 was a time to reimagine clinical trials – taking real action to broaden eligibility, increase diversity, and dispel the myths and fears around clinical trials. We heard from patient advocates living with metastatic breast cancer including some who’ve actually participated in trials, leaders of nonprofit advocacy organizations, and professionals who are innovating in the clinical trial space. We were excited to have this conversation with you all month long… let’s keep it going!

Dr. Julie Gralow: Clinical Trials Need Flexibility, Diversity, Patient-Focus, and Ease.


Dr. Julie Gralow, oncologist and Chief Medical Officer at ASCO reimagines clinical trials with greater diversity, better bias training, more patient-centric trials, decentralizing testing, and minimizing data collection.


Dr. Timothy Pluard: “Clinical Trials are our Life’s Blood for New Treatments.”


Dr. Timothy Pluard, oncologist and founder/director of Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer shares why less than 5% of metastatic breast cancer patients participate in clinical trials: because no one asks or mentions it to them.


Sheila Johnson: “Black Women are Worthy to Be Asked About Clinical Trials.”


Sheila Johnson, a U.S. Air Force veteran living with metastatic breast cancer for 13 years, and a clinical trial participant, advocates for clinical trials becoming standard of care, and that we all “get online, get involved, research, ask questions.”

Carla Harvey: “I’m Alive Today Because of Clinical Trials.”

Carla Harvey, metastatic breast cancer patient advocate, shares her real life experience of receiving lifesaving targeted therapies that were once clinical trials.


Barbara Bigelow: My Real Experience with a Clinical Trial.

“We need research, not ribbons.” Barbara Bigelow, Vice President of, discusses how, despite adverse reactions in her clinical trials experience, she is grateful she participated. It saved her life.


Ricki Fairley: “This isn’t About Science. It’s About Life.” 

Clinical trials are about love: more time, more birthdays, more life. Ricki Fairley, CEO of TOUCH, The  Black Breast Cancer Alliance, shares the impact of the lack of diversity in clinical trials and next steps to save more women diagnosed with breast cancer. 


Maimah Karmo: No Equity in Clinical Trials Means No Treatments 

There were no options to treat my type of breast cancer because of lack of equity in clinical trials.” Maimah Karmo, patient advocate and CEO of Tigerlily Foundation explains how equity in access to clinical trials can save lives. 


Kelly Shanahan: Diverse Patient Input is Necessary in the Design of Clinical Trials  

“The voices of people living with this disease should be at the table.” MBCA patient advocate member, Kelly Shanahan, who has been living with MBC for almost 10 years, encourages clinical trials participation from patients, and more inclusivity from the medical industry.


Christine Hodgdon: “Every Advancement in Breast Cancer Care Has Been Tested in A Clinical Trial.”

“I’m alive today because patients in the 90s participated in clinical trials for Herceptin.” MBCA patient advocate member, Christine Hodgdon, reimagines clinical trials: decentralization, fewer exclusions and broader participation.


Janice Cowden: Visioning a New Future for Clinical Trials

Did you know that fewer than 5% of adults with cancer participate in clinical trials? MBC Alliance member and metastatic breast cancer survivor Janice Cowden unpacks clinical trial participation, barriers, and eligibility.


Be sure to follow the MBC Alliance on Facebook and Twitter, watch the entire video series on YouTube, and share on social media to raise awareness of ways we can make new strides in metastatic breast cancer research.