Request For Proposals, Results For Change


March 11, 2021

Being in the midst of a global pandemic cannot stop efforts to make positive change for those living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

We’ve missed in-person events and gatherings so much this past year but in a way, we’ve been in touch and more connected with our community than ever. And that’s important because we learn from listening to you and understand your values, priorities and pain points to help change and improve your experiences. Many of you become involved in helping us shape and drive solutions and mobilize family, friends, extended networks to take action and help us make change. That has been especially true when it comes to tackling metastatic issues and raising funds for our MBC Fund. Even in this pandemic.

Our goal with our MBC Fund? Dramatically improve outcomes for metastatic breast cancer to help those living with it, live better and longer. In this effort, there’s so much work to do. That sounds cliché but it’s just so true. Let me say, there’s no shortage of opportunities for improvement. We can’t let ourselves get overwhelmed so instead, we prioritize, we strategize, we optimize.

And our MBC Advisory Board plays a huge role. They help identify and inform Rethink’s annual priorities for MBC initiatives and also take an active role in helping to create and roll-out education, advocacy and support initiatives that meet the unique needs of people with MBC.  They also have a huge interest in research.

A challenge for Rethink has been figuring out the best, smartest way to contribute to MBC research. While we are a small but mighty force in terms of amplifying voices, making change and helping influence policy decisions, when it comes to our annual operating budget, we are small, full stop. Clinical research to understand the biological mechanisms behind cancer costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Moreover, we know the larger granting agencies are focused on this type of research. And, thanks to vocal MBC thrivers, those granting bodies are expanding their percentage invested in MBC specific research. Our MBC Fund is new, so we don’t have millions to invest, and we also feel a huge sense of urgency. Much of our MBC Fund has been raised by those with MBC themselves. Mouse models and manipulating cell lines in a petri dish is a long game.

And speaking of time, timing is everything. In the midst of covid lockdowns last year, we picked up a conversation with Pfizer Canada. We’d been in discussions for a while about ways to collaborate on MBC research. They’d been vocal about the importance of bringing the patient voice to everything they do; we had patients with a passionate voice to bring to the table. We wanted to allocate some of our MBC Fund to research; they had a mechanism for collaborating on a request for proposals (RFP) to healthcare professionals at institutions across Canada. Perfect fit. Math was never my strong suit and maybe that’s why my favourite equation is when 1 + 1 = 3. Meaningful consultation and strategic collaboration. Our world needs more of it.

In working through the collaboration with Pfizer, we explored a few different types of RFP that were up for consideration. While we started the conversation talking about clinical research, after much discussion, we landed on an RFP focused on Quality Improvement as being the best fit. Quality improvement is designed to implement knowledge or access a process in order to improve it, to immediately improve patient care. While it’s systematic and data-guided, it’s an adaptive process that is flexible and the results (improvement to care) are rapidly adopted. Positive change happens sooner rather than later. That made us happy.

And so, I am thrilled to share the news officially:

Today, Rethink Breast Cancer and the Pfizer Canada team launched a joint request for proposals (RFP) to support programs aimed at improving the quality of care of people living with metastatic breast cancer.

The areas of interest identified within the RFP were determined with input by our MBC Advisory Board. They used the James Lind Alliance Top 10 research priorities for MBC, an exercise Rethink had participated in, as a starting point.

It’s felt so “full circle” to see how this collaboration is bringing patients’ voices and values to the process of supporting quality improvement initiatives to make a difference in the daily lives of people living with MBC.

Healthcare professionals from institutions across Canada are invited to apply to the joint 2021 Pfizer Canada / Rethink Breast Cancer RFP to help address the unmet needs of MBC patients. (CLICK HERE FOR THE 2022 RFP)

This initiative has been made possible by the generous support of the Rethink community—especially MBC Allies—for our MBC Fund, by the passion and determination of our MBC Board, and by the openness of Pfizer Canada in collaborating to respond to the needs of those living with breast cancer.

Thank you all. We cannot wait to see what projects come in for consideration. – MJ

Click here to learn more about applying to this RFP to support programs aimed at improving the quality of care of people living with metastatic breast cancer.

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