InHANSE Institute of Head and Neck Studies and Education Contact Us

A day in the life of...

 

Below are a series of articles about people involved in the daily struggle against cancers and conditions of the head and neck.

 


A day in the life of....

A Research Technician
By Baksho Kaul and Margaret Hartley

We are working on an exciting project called AcceleraTED which provides a platform for the identification of novel drugs and devices for head and neck cancer. We are involved in preparing cell lines and patient tissue for a number of different experiments to determine the effects these drugs have on cancer.

Margaret and I communicate with a number of people this includes our work colleagues so we can coordinate an experiment and research nurses who recruit the patients so we can process the tissue and blood samples. Occasionally we collect samples from theatre we do not normally have any contact with patients so it’s nice to see these are the people we are helping.

We also teach students, technicians and research fellows laboratory techniques or how to use scientific equipment so they have the necessary skills needed for their projects. Routine work such as maintenance of the laboratory and ordering reagents ensure we have everything we need before we do an experiment which is vital.

The job involves a hands-on role which we enjoy but most importantly it’s inspiring to see the research you are doing will benefit patients in the future and that’s why being a research technician is so rewarding.

#top


A day in the life of ....

A Research Nurse.
By Lucy Winterbottom


The day-to-day role of a Research Nurse is all based around the recruitment of patients into trials. It is our job to inform, support and advocate for patients throughout the research process. Once a patient is identified as eligible for a trial we approach them to introduce ourselves, and the proposed research. Our duty is to provide all information regarding the trial to a patient in an unbiased, understandable and appropriate way. Patients should never feel pressured to recruit onto a study, or feel that they have no choice in the decision. We are there to provide information and to answer any questions which may arise.

One study I am involved with recruits whole families, not just the patient. It is a genetic study which is aiming to identify the gene that causes Otitis Media (inflammation / infection of the middle ear). Genetic testing is carried out on saliva samples provided by the recruited families.

The research process begins before the family is approached. I have to look through the theatre lists for potential patients, and send out information sheets to provide all of the relevant details about the study. A phone number is provided if there are any questions or queries at this stage.

On the morning of surgery I go to the ward to meet the family and discuss the study. I provide extra information and answer any questions.

If the family are happy to take part, each member completes a consent form.

I provide the necessary equipment and explain the process of obtaining the samples (the samples are collected at home).

I follow-up each family with a phone call a few days later to enquire about the sample taking, and to answer any further questions.

I find it very humbling to work with these patients on a daily basis. Although most research trials may not benefit the patient directly, their generosity to participate for the potential to help others in the future is awe-inspiring.

Without research, no advances or improvements can be made to existing care. Although it is a long process, it is so very worthwhile when it has a positive impact on the lives of thousands of patients. Our motto here at InHANSE is a daily reminder of why I do this job and why I enjoy it so much:

“Improving patients’ lives through research”.

#top


A day in the life of a patient involved in a research trial

Patient's view of the Pet-Neck study. 
By Kelvin Fell

At the first meeting with the medical staff to hear the diagnosis of what you have is a major shock to your system.  That point on I had to hear and discuss options that were available.


The staff at the hospital approached me to discuss the possibility on going on a trial.  In anyone’s mind the first thought of the word trial = guinea pig! I could not have been so wrong.  The way I was approached was in an understanding and professional manner.

 

The study is a means of feedback to the medical profession from a patient’s view.  This would include nurses, doctors, and dieticians all the way to the medical teams that work in research.  The forms themselves are simple and constructive, easy to understand to complete the data required.  There were a few questions you look at and think they are a bit personal, but as we all know every person is different in their own right but to gather information in this manner gives a bigger picture for the medical teams across a broad base of patients on treatments being administered at present.


From the view of a patient it was good to always have support from my wife when putting information down because I did not always see what other people do.


Kelvin Fell.

#top


A day in the life of a clinical senior lecturer

Dr Anthony Kong

As a clinical senior lecturer, I am involved in the clinical care of the patients as well as clinical and translational research. At the moment, my main clinical duty is to look after head and neck cancer patients with recurrent disease after previous treatment or those patients who present with advanced or metastatic disease. I am responsible for management of these patients, especially in relation to the systemic treatment.

In addition, I am developing a portfolio of clinical trials testing novel agents with Prof Hisham Mehanna so that some of these recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer patients can be given an opportunity to consider entering these new trials. 

We aim to develop a more personalized medicine approach for these patients. In collaboration with our co-investigators in Germany, we hope to start doing molecular profiling on the tumours on our patients to see whether this may guide us to treat our patients more appropriately according to their tumours’ characteristics. In the longer term, we hope that patients’ care will be improved through clinical and translational research.

As a clinical senior lecturer, I am involved in the clinical care of the patients as well as clinical and translational research. At the moment, my main clinical duty is to look after head and neck cancer patients with recurrent disease after previous treatment or those patients who present with advanced or metastatic disease.

I am responsible for management of these patients, especially in relation to the systemic treatment. In addition, I am developing a portfolio of clinical trials testing novel agents with Prof Hisham Mehanna so that some of these recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer patients can be given an opportunity to consider entering these new trials.  We aim to develop a more personalized medicine approach for these patients.

 

Dr Anthony Kong

#top

Charity appeal

Find out more about our £1m Charity appeal for the AcceleraTED cancer Treatment programme.