Like so many of us in the research and advocacy communities, I owe a lot to Leigh Pate.
Leigh and I started working together in earnest in early 2018, when she (and fellow LBCA co-founder Lori Petitti) brought me into the fold to volunteer with the newly-formed Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance. While I was happy to help however I could with Leigh's efforts to build LBCA, it quickly became apparent to me that Leigh would be the one helping build MY career.
Leigh was an incredible guide while I found my footing in working with patient advocates early in my independent career. My wife jokes that my first language is Science - not English - and as such, Leigh was instrumental in helping me learn how to communicate effectively with the patients and advocates we serve. This was especially true of some of the "stickier" issues related to relating lab findings to real-life patient concerns. More than once, I had semi-panicked calls/zooms with Leigh about how to best respond to patient emails or phone calls about our work on treatment response and resistance, because I knew I could lean on her to navigate that part of outreach. She was also central in building my advocacy and outreach plans for grant submissions, and the strength of those plans along with her letters of support led to funding for the lobular research in our lab.
Leigh was also uniquely motivating to me as a scientist. When the research was working, with new work published, she was the first to help promote the work and find opportunities for me to talk about our lobular research with the advocate community. When it wasn't, or when the grants got rejected, she was the first to remind me how important we are to the #lobmob - and to get back at it! In making sure our research is supported for the long haul, Leigh led the establishment of the Lobular Breast Cancer Research Fund at CU Anschutz for my lab - a vote of confidence in me as a scientist that means far more than any grant score.
We will miss her insight, her support, her vision, and her leadership. Our lobular cancer research and outreach will move forward, undaunted, with Leigh close to our hearts.