June 2017:

Goldsteins are back at it! Well, not all of us this time, but Dad and I are back in Phnom Penh, Cambodia this week.

Business first, as we check-in on our cervical cancer research study at the Sihanouk Center for Hope. The HPV detecting machine, a donation from Dad’s new foundation, The Gynecologic Cancer Research Foundation, was finally approved by the government for arrival in Cambodia, after months of “standard” procedure.

Now, Dr. Thay Sonnavara and her team have begun researching optimal method of screening for cervical cancer in resource poor nations. We are comparing HPV self-swabs, physician collected HPV samples, VIA exams, and digital cervicography, to determine the best options for accuracy, cost, and quality control.

In addition, half of the study population is composed of women who are HIV positive. HIV positive patients are 5 times more likely to get cervical cancer because of the body’s inability to fight-off HPV. Cambodia has a high HIV prevalence because of sex tourism.

We are thrilled to find everything running smoothly and according to plan!

Aside from the women’s health clinic, we are also pleased to see a busy Sihanouk Center for Hope– full of patients, doctors, lab researchers and students. Everything is bustling here in Phnom Penh and there’s something comforting about being back in the land of tok-tok traffic and 95 degree heat.

In our downtime, we had a chance to do some of the sightseeing that we didn’t do last year. We visited the Tuol Sleng Cambodian Genocide Museum — a much needed documentation of the horrific loss of life between 1975-1979, a beautiful memorial and tribute to the victims, and a frightening reminder of the genocide that continues to occur in this world.

We also visited the Royal Palace and took advantage of the breeze by the riverfront.

I’m happy to have taken over the role of the travel planner (with a little help from TripAdvisor and guidebooks) on our much anticipated return to Southeast Asia. Mom better watch out!

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