I woke up this morning feeling a little more refreshed. Despite the too soft bed and the fact that the air conditioning could not get the room below 74 degrees (I still suffer with hot flashes even though I have been intermittent for many months) I am feeling better and ready to go to work.

As I said last night, I am serving as Malecare’s representative at the Department of Defense (DOD) Peer Review Committee evaluating research proposals focusing on breast and prostate cancer. I am on the Cellular Committee and have been reading and writing impact statements on research proposals that have been submitted for funding.

Congress gives the DOD $80,000,000 to fund breast and prostate cancer research. Our committee is composed of scientists, statisticians, researchers, medical practitioners and consumer representatives. The committees are charged with the responsibility of evaluating the many proposals. We examine the impact the proposal will have on the cancer community (my main responsibility), the efficacy of the research, the proposed budget, the personnel to be involved in the research project and the facilities that will be used to carry out the research.

Our first meeting will be at 1:00 pm today, so I have not yet had the opportunity to meet any of my colleagues or to start the actual committee process.

Over the last three weeks I have been spending a lot of time learning how to read the proposals that were assigned to me. I do admit that the first two or three proposals I reviewed required me to “Google” every fourth word as they all use a vocabulary that was new to me. As I progressed, the reading and the writing of the impact statements did become easier.

The proposals that I have evaluated mostly involve examining proteins and genetic material that are either in prostate cancer cells or present in the extracellular matrix (you can always Google it). The theory being that learning to inhibit or increase the presence of these materials can eventually be used as new treatment targets or as better biomarkers for either diagnostic procedures or for evaluating the potential aggressiveness of the disease.

I do have to say that many of these proposals are very exciting and do hold out the potential for revolutionizing the treatment of prostate cancer. However, being an individual who already has advanced prostate cancer, I believe that the proposals I am reading today will not yield actual treatments that will be available for me. However, I do know that there are other research projects and potential treatments well in progress. Hopefully these other projects will be available for me when I am in need of them.

I will keep everyone informed of my experiences as I progress through the experience.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW