My journey in cannabis started when I was asked to speak at A Relay for Life as a Keynote speaker. At the time, I was my father’s advocate when he was dying at age 62 from Stage 4 Liver, Lung, and Stomach cancers. Due to his diagnosis and need for urgent care, I realized that there was a need for a patient advocacy firm. The Relay for Life Committee was intrigued with my drive to not only care for my father during his battle with cancer but that I also identified a massive need for patient care and advocacy. That was the whole premise for establishing Affinity Patient Advocacy.
During my keynote at Relay For Life, I shared some of the most personal and intimate thoughts that I had from when caring for my father. My intention with this was to bring awareness to the fact that all patients need a voice, and deserve to have their voices heard.
The video of my speech was shared by some of the attendees on social media and ended up in the hands of a grower, processor, and dispensary from the west coast that requested a meeting with me.
Evidentially, the CEO had Googled me and figured out that I had been in the global pharmaceutical, biotech, device, and nutraceutical industries for years. They wanted someone to help with clinical research. From that moment on, my journey in cannabis had begun, and I never looked back.
Five years ago, when I first got into the medical cannabis clinical research space, the majority of people in the industry were not very welcoming nor did they feel as though clinical research was needed. At times, I felt as though it was an uphill battle to educate business executives in the industry about the benefits of clinical research. During this time, the FDA started becoming more aware of what the CBD industry was doing with false claims and representations regarding their products, and they began issuing 483 warning letters.
CBD companies that received 483 letters started contacting Affinity Bio Partners for help. I am proud to say that I have helped many companies respond to the FDA while also helping other companies not get in the position to receive a 483-warning letter from the FDA.
Over the years, I have worked on multiple indications wherein we have operationalized and designed clinical studies. During this time, I have also published scientific papers.
Recently, I was proud to have accepted a position as CEO of Spectral Analytics Precision Tele-Monitoring. We will be performing perpetual clinical studies for patients and will also be testing the endocannabinoid system using a proprietary test. We will also be testing other aspects of human health to ensure that we are meeting patients where they are medically in order to help them get to where they need to be. This is not happening in our current healthcare systems and we plan to change that. We plan to change the way that patients are cared for and will provide them with the power to manage their own patient care with their doctor through our platform. It is time to raise the bar in this industry.
Throughout my entire Biotech career, I've always been in male-dominated environments. The positions I've held and responsibilities I've had were typically those of which a man would have. With that said, I can remember back to when I was a young girl and my father telling me that I would always have to work faster, stronger and more efficiently than my male colleagues.
I feel blessed to have been provided this wisdom and guidance as a young girl when I was growing up. My father always included me in important union or political endeavors that he was involved in. During my childhood, he was the Union President for a local steel company that has since closed. After the Phoenix Steel Mill closed, he accepted a position on the Pennsylvania Turnpike commission and became a Teamster. Quickly and very calculated, my father rose up in the Teamsters. He handled many grievances and healthcare contract negotiations. I learned so many things by watching him and the other males that he interacted with it. My father used many of these difficulties that he had experienced with his work as life lessons for myself. I smile when I think of these memories and all of the lessons I learned from him.
Prior to his death, I worked diligently over my entire career to show my father what I could and had become, and now of course I know that he is watching from above. My voice is like his voice. He was someone that was always willing to help others and he used his voice for employees’ rights similarly to what I do for patients’ rights. I love to see how everything has come full circle.
All of this, including how women can preserve in the face of adversity and life’s challenges, plus so much more will be a part of a new book that I am in the process of writing.
As a single mom, I am raising a bi-racial child with diagnosed developmental disorders in an environment wherein medical cannabis and CBD are more accepted. However, I am very aware of the stigma that this brings. I constantly strive to demonstrate to my son that we will have challenges in life, and that we need to handle these challenges with grace and knowledge. Transparency, integrity, professionalism and respect is all we can ever hope for in this industry as we work beside other incredible women who are paving the way for a better workplace of the future for future generations of women to come.