Researchers collaborating with the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) have frequently focused their precision medicine studies on improving outcomes and personalized therapies for breast cancer. Earlier this year, they examined the link between high BMI and low survival rates in HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, and they have pioneered the use of virtual reality in providing supportive care to patients undergoing chemotherapy, successfully lowering their experience of anxiety during treatment. In recent years, SHRO researchers have also investigated the use of local-anesthetic during cancer therapies, combination of CDK-Inhibitors with endocrine therapy, and the benefits of chemo before surgery in triple-negative breast cancer.
“Our focus on bench-to-bedside research means physicians will be able to improve the lives of their patients,” says Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., SHRO Founder and Director. “Because of this, when Randa approached me for advice about her diagnosis, it was clear which direction to steer her, to assemble a team that would look comprehensively at the best treatment options for her case.”
The patient, Randa Ghattas, went on to write and produce a film about her experience.
Written while the filmmaker was undergoing chemotherapy in 2018, Randa’s short film, “Hug Me Dad,” is dedicated in part to Giordano, who advised her on the course of her treatment.
“Dr. Giordano introduced me to the surgeon and oncologist that treated me,” Randa says, “Dr. Massimiliano D’Aiuto and Dr. Michelino de Laurentis. I was lucky that with the help of these outstanding doctors, I was able to avoid a metastase.”
Produced together with Randa’s son, Mario Rivelli, by their company MR8 Productions, “Hug Me Dad” has been recognized with selection for film festivals in Encino, CA, and Berlin, with hopes to screen at Ischia in summer 2021. The film is available to stream on Amazon Prime in the U.S. and the U.K.
“I first met Dr. Antonio Giordano in 2007 at an event in Naples and we stayed in touch over the years,” Randa says. “Ten years later, during the Ischia Global Film Festival on an island off the coast of Naples, I was having breakfast at the hotel and by coincidence he happened to be sitting at a nearby table. This was just a few months before my diagnosis,” she continues, “it was as though destiny put Dr. Giordano in my life again.”
“Upon getting the results of my mammography, I wrote to Dr. Giordano and he advised me to get immediate surgery and recommended the doctors to treat me,” Randa says.
The nature of her diagnosis was a very aggressive, HER2+ form of breast cancer, Randa says, and her surgeon later cautioned that if she had waited to have surgery, there would have been risk to her heart, lungs, and developing other metastatic tumors.
“In other words,” she concludes, “they saved my life.”