A lone man hunched over, peering through a telescope. A group in a sequestered lap, barebones and starving. A hum of electrics, a zap of inspiration, a bolt of energy that helps mankind take the next step. If I was writing a movie, these are ways we like to imagine scientific advancement. But on average, the truth of it is hardly ever this exciting or sudden. It is a slow, plodding advancement. Especially when viewed from outside the ongoings of a lab.
When we started Joedance, I only understood how research worked on the patient end – when Joe was part of a clinical trial. But the time, effort, and resources necessary to push a line of research to that point is no small feat. I learned this, intimately, when we started the Joedance Summer Internship Program.
The start of the program was, frankly, not one of the first things we would help run through Joedance. But when I asked the researchers what they needed most, in the moment, “Hands” was the immediate response. They needed help doing the minutiae that involves the day-to-day running of a lab. Data collation. Running the same experiment over and over, recording the results, and doing it all again the next day. It sounds small, and boring, to those of us not involved, but as I watched these interns work summer after summer and the work of the lab year after year, I realised that what they do is invaluable to the advancement of science – both on a practical level and a personal level.
Whether we fully appreciate it or not, most medical advancements take time. The reason, naturally, is safety. We run experiments under control environments to understand how one thing reacts to another. We alter the variables, run the experiment again, to learn how it reacts in slightly different environments. They look at every individual tree to understand the forest. Through our summer internship, we helped educate patients on the uses and benefits of Healios, a mouthwash that lessens the severity of mouth sores, the Backpack Protocol, which allows patients receive treatment remotely from home, and investigated the impact of integrated medicine on cancer treatment. With our interns, Joedance has walked along side these programs from inception to implementation. And with every step, they have helped improve not only the labs they work in but the lives of the patients that have benefited from their endless work.
But perhaps equally as important, the program allows the medical researchers of the future take their first steps. Roman Rivera, one of past interns, said, “I started this internship with little knowledge about the paediatric haematology/oncology field and in just six weeks I gained a copious amount of knowledge that I can use in medical school.”
As vital as Joedance’s role is in improving the lives of families impacted by cancer, we always keep in mind that this is not a battle we are winning overnight. We must look to the future, and by training the medical researchers of tomorrow by helping them gain a foundation in the field, the Joedance Internship program does just that.