DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
Leslie Falduto Leslie Falduto

I was married and had a two year old son when I was initially diagnosed with stage III invasive ductal breast cancer at the age of 31. I have no family history, did not test positive for any gene mutation, and maintained a healthy lifestyle. I underwent chemo, radiation, bilateral mastectomy, hormone therapy, and targeted treatment for 5 years. My husband and I welcomed our second son four years after my initial breast cancer diagnosis. Although I am a registered nurse (RN), I had no idea what the risks for recurrence, or metastatic disease looked like. Six years to the day of my early diagnosis, I had a tonic clonic seizure while working in the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU). This led to a craniotomy to remove breast cancer from my brain and once again I went through chemotherapy, radiation to my brain, hormone therapy, had my ovaries removed, and I continue with targeted treatment seven years later.

After my diagnosis, I became an active advocate with Metavivor, Cancerland, Snow Company, and several other organizations, even serving on the board of both Metavivor and Cancerland at one time. I discovered that I enjoy educating the public on metastatic breast cancer and participating in research and consumer projects. I feel that being a RN, a mother, and having both early and late stage breast cancer allows me to offer a different perspective. I was nominated by Metavivor to participate with the Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) and was immediately hooked and love to participate as a consumer reviewer.

The DOD BCRP plays a huge role in change for breast cancer by looking at the community as a whole, from early to late stage breast cancer. When it comes to advancing treatment for breast cancer, all stages are important. Everyone that serves on the panel plays an important role in what is instrumental for new and better treatments for breast cancer, and there is always a focus on working to achieve the program’s vision of a world without breast cancer. Each new research proposal is looked at individually and time is spent understanding each application and how it will affect the community. The consumer reviewers’ opinions are weighed heavily as they are the ones living with the disease, the treatments, and the side effects of those treatments.

I truly enjoy working with DOD BCRP. Everyone is so respectful and really interested in the consumers’ thoughts and opinions. I love that I can utilize my science/nursing background while advocating for an entire group of individuals. I don’t take it lightly that I am speaking for an entire community of breast cancer patients and it is an honor to serve as a consumer reviewer.

Outside of work, and advocacy, my most important job is being a mother and wife. I am also a certified yoga teacher, enjoy quilting, the ballet, the outdoors, and trying something new almost every day. I love food, wine and travel. My focus now is to continue to make lifelong memories with my husband and kids.

Last updated Sunday, December 31, 1600