It’s been seven years since his last radiation treatment and two years since he was considered cured of tongue cancer, but Joshua hasn’t forgotten about the experience with his diagnosis and treatment. After he finishes his day job managing a team in the pharmacokinetics and toxicokinetics group in Madison, Wisc., U.S., Joshua spends time on his “second shift” to raise funds for head and neck cancer research through his non-profit organization.
As he shared in an earlier blog, Joshua has combined his love of golf with supporting a cause that’s close to his heart. His organization’s annual LINKS_STRONG golfing event has become a success that Covance, the drug development business of Labcorp, has been proud to sponsor. While the pandemic forced some of the event’s activities to an online format, LINKS_STRONG 2020 still raised $20,000 for the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, where Joshua was treated.
Looking beyond awareness and research
Joshua is one of the approximate 15.5 million Americans who are cancer survivors, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Even though he is considered cured, Joshua is still hoping for additional treatments to address some of the side effects that he is experiencing after radiation.
“Much of the focus on cancer research is detection, prevention and treatment, which is great. I never want that work to stop happening,” he explained. “But because I’m here, I’m also passionate about what’s being done for the people like me who make it through. What are we doing to help with some of the chronic side effects? Is there any potential reversibility in the path ahead? Are there options discovering new therapies or treatments that could help?”
Joshua lists dry mouth as one of his biggest side effects from his radiation therapy and was excited to learn about a clinical trial for a new therapy to treat radiation-induced dry mouth.
“This research is just one small glimpse into the kind of work that our fundraising is helping support,” said Joshua.
Connecting his work in early development to new treatments
Joshua works in early phase drug development. After the preclinical stage in this process, it can take several years to advance a new molecule or compound through clinical testing before it becomes an approved treatment for patients. Even though Joshua doesn’t always know if his team’s work has directly contributed to a new successful drug, he still recognizes the energizing purpose of their efforts.
“We are helping drug development sponsors make smarter decisions faster,” he said. “Our team helps them decide how much effort to dedicate to a molecule and refine their focus on the most promising molecules. My work is very engaging and rewarding to me. It’s also very personal to know that we are supporting prospective oncology treatments.”