My name is Michelle Harry and I am a Haematology research nurse working in early phase studies for the University of Birmingham Cancer Research Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU). I am responsible for the screening and recruiting of patients on to clinical trials and supporting those patients and their families through the trial treatment. I collect and return accurate data to the trial centres for analysis and ensure that any trial investigations are ordered and carried out at the trial designated specific time points. The most enjoyable and rewarding part of my job is definitely when our patients have a response to their treatment. Our trials are often the final option and only hope for patients so when the treatment is effective and they enter remission it is a very happy time for all of us.
Working in research
I decided to work in research as I had been a nurse for 22years and over that period of time had seen a lot of practises change and improve due to research. I decided I would like to be instrumental in changing practise and treatments that were available. I started out as a generic research nurse working on paediatric, orthopaedic and dermatology trials, then whilst covering sick leave worked on haematology trials, I found the haematology fascinating, extremely interesting and moved across to haematology trials full time. I initially worked on phase 3 trials which look at the toxicity of the trial treatments over a longer period of time. Whilst I really enjoyed this I took the opportunity to move to the phase 1 and 2 trials which look at finding the maximum tolerated dose and efficacy of new treatments, closer to the initial drug development. This gives me a really good overall knowledge of treatment from development to it being widely used and compared against existing treatments.
The work I do impacts greatly on patients, it offers some patients an alternative to palliative care and a chance for disease remission which without the trials would not exist. Our supportive role for the patients gives them another point of contact and increases their amount of support throughout their treatment.
Bloodwise's TAP programme
Engaging with Bloodwise has had a hugely positive effect on my work. The CRCTU I work for is the sponsor for the Trial Acceleration Programme (TAP) which would not exist if not for Bloodwise. The TAP programme facilitates the opening, recruitment and publishing of trials and their results in a far shorter time period than previously which allows us to offer more trial treatment options for patients, providing hope for the future for our patients. Having joined the Bloodwise Facebook group it allows me to see who else is out there working towards the same goals as me and gives me the opportunity to forge professional connections. I also have another avenue to point my patients to if they wish; there is some very informative information available from Bloodwise, all of which I have found very useful myself.
If you have a story to share or would like to tell us how you make an impact on patients, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org!