Rachel Minnick dedicated much of her life as a medical hero. We honor and remember her legacy.
Rachel, who served as Senior Manager of Marketing and Patient Engagement Alliances at CISCRP, passed away in April of this year at age 39.
Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2013, the wife and mother of two fought back fiercely against the disease with a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. She participated in a clinical trial. And she worked tirelessly to educate others about their treatment options and the clinical research process.
“Rachel had direct experience, which gave her such an inside perspective,” says CISCRP founder, Ken Getz. “It fed her compassion and helped her understand, even more deeply, what so many patients are going through.”
Her husband, Pete Minnick, adds, “Rachel was always pro research, pro clinical trials. She always had that mindset ‘we’re on the cutting edge of medical breakthroughs and technology,’ and she wanted to be on that cutting edge.”
Her cancer was in remission from 2014 to early 2017, until she began experiencing pain in her back and neck. Then her doctors informed her that the cancer was back and had spread to her bones.
“That was a huge blow to us,” Pete says, noting it was stage 4 cancer. “She knew she wasn’t going to be cured.”
In early 2018, the cancer spread to Minnick’s lungs and liver. She was actively looking for her next clinical trial when she passed away.
Getz says Minnick’s legacy lives on through her work: the panels she moderated, the clinical trial awareness initiatives that she spearheaded, her collaborative projects, and the enduring educational brochures, newsletters and other patient communications she wrote during her time with CISCRP.
She was passionate about her job for many reasons. She could focus on the patient community and it also allowed her to work from her Philadelphia-area home, which gave her the opportunity to continue her medical care as well as spend time with the couple’s children, Emily and Sam, now ages 9 and 7.
Being a part of CISCRP was more than a job for her. CISCRP gave her the opportunity to offer hope to other people who were in her same situation.
“She felt like she was helping the entire clinical trial community as well as doing something she liked,” says her husband.
Pete Koerner, a pharmaceutical industry colleague, who worked with Rachel and the CISCRP team for two years, described Minnick as someone who was always enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated to her family, her staff and her work.
“She was invested in clinical research,” says Koerner, explaining Minnick was proud to be the patient voice and wanted to advance the techniques and technologies in the clinical trials process.
She also motivated everyone she encountered at CISCRP and shaped the organization in lasting ways, Getz notes.
Getz reflects on Rachel’s lasting impression, “Her compassion combined with her professionalism and the passion that she brought to CISCRP has inspired so many people – those who reported to her, those who she mentored, and those with whom she collaborated. That will stay with us forever. She truly helped to define our culture and evolve it in such meaningful ways.”
Those interested in making a contribution in Rachel’s memory may send donations to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.