We want to bring diverse voices into our clinical trials conversations. That way, we can enroll a broader swath of patients – making our trials more accessible, equitable, and representative of all people living with cancer. In brief, SWOG feels everyone affected by malignancy should have the opportunity to enroll in a cancer clinical trial.

There’s perhaps no better way to bring diverse voices into the conversation than by bringing a diverse group of patient advocates to the table. Why and how?

SWOG Cancer Research Network’s patient advocate committee has been one of the strongest in the NCTN. Already focusing on making our trials more accessible and understandable, the committee just launched a search for five community advocates – in-the-trenches cancer survivors or caregivers who'll bring fresh voices and diverse perspectives to our group. SWOG is looking for African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and Latinx advocates, as well as a military veteran. And that’s just this round. Next year, the committee will recruit five additional community advocates, bringing the total number of SWOG patient advocates from 20 to 30.

I fully support this new program because of its inclusion and ingenuity.

SWOG advocates wanted their group to better reflect the face of America, based not only on race and ethnicity, but also age, gender, geography, socioeconomic status, life experience, cancer type, and other characteristics. Research advocates work in our research committees to design and manage trials – work that requires fairly extensive medical and scientific knowledge and experience. Community advocates will be introduced to this work by helping to refine SWOG informed consent forms; build awareness of trials in their communities through personal networks; review and execute accrual plans; engage member sites; and assist with the dissemination of results to their communities. They will support multiple committees.

Community advocates will be mentored and rigorously trained through a dedicated curriculum. Ideally, they will be selected for their ability to move into research advocate roles, with appropriate experience, training, and time served. Professional development will be made available, supplementing standard training.

Please help us spread the word. Applications for the community advocate program are open through Monday, July 22. We’ve already received 11 applications for our five slots, and there are some great candidates.

These volunteers will join a very supportive team, get free training and group meeting travel, and serve the public through life-changing work. A full position description and application can be found here.

I want to thank our patient advocate committee. They’ve built a brand new program from scratch in just nine months – from job description to evaluation process to orientation and professional development plan. This group has demonstrated vision, determination, and collaboration. I am eager for all of us to reap additional rewards from their work.