WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- At this year's Annual Honoring the Promise Gala, where Susan G. Komen for the Cure will present Awards of Distinction for Advocacy, Global, Community, Lifetime and Scientific Contributions.
The recipient for Community Service is Dr. Sandra Swain, Director of the Washington Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center. The notification came in an email and she almost missed she tells us. "I almost deleted this. Then I thought maybe I'll read it; it is from Komen so it's probably important. She adds, "I still can't believe it; I am really very humbled by it. "
In selecting her, Dr. Swain believes the Komen Foundation is acknowledging her work with the undeserved community and her frustration at the lack of progress being made overcoming barriers to treatment for this population, especially in big cities.
"There are so many of them from transportation to just financial, mental health. Really huge issues to tackle," Dr. Swain says.
Another huge issue Dr. Swain's tackling is why the breast cancer death rate is higher in African American women. For some answers, she's aggressively recruiting blacks to participate in clinical trials.
Clinical trials include experimental treatments, often unavailable elsewhere, which frequently lead to improved patient care for the rest of us.
Dr. Swain tells us, "To make advances in that specific population, it's important to study that population, not just extrapolate or take data from white women and say it's going to be the same for black women."
In her four and a half years as director of the Washington Cancer Institute, Dr. Swain is proud of what she and her staff have accomplished in the treatment and prevention of women's cancers. But she is far from satisfied.
"I think we've made a small dent, unfortunately we haven't done as much as I'd like to. I'm really anxious to keep doing more," she says.
Another prestigious honor for Dr. Swain, she's the new President-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Her one year term begins June, 2012.
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