Editor’s Note: Rob Michelson is a 3-year survivor of stage IV Rectal Cancer. Rob writes of his memories of Ms. Dubow, a 9-year survivor of stage IV Colon Cancer, and a founder of C3, who passed away on July 24, 2007. Please visit the Lisa Dubow Colorectal Cancer Research Fund to make a contribution.
I remember the first time I came across Lisa Dubow’s name on C3′s website. The post outlined her diagnosis on Mother’s Day 1998, her use of the media to draw attention and awareness to Colorectal Cancer and the importance of colonoscopy. It went on to describe her participation in 2 clinical trials, her advice on being as informed a patient as possible, and her lobbying in Sacramento and DC.
My first thought is this must be superwoman. How is she doing this while still undergoing treatment? Will I be as brave and focused as she is?
I first heard Lisa’s voice on a conference call that C3 had organized for involved advocates such as myself. She described sitting in supermarkets to increase awareness and she went into great detail on how to get on local TV. Lisa mentioned her “modeling” work on the Colon Club colondar, where she was “Miss March 2007.” She said this was part of her calculated media campaign to draw attention to the “Lisa Fund.” She also said the motto of her campaign was “I am Still Here.” She had accomplished 8 years of advocacy work to that point, and she wanted people to know that she was still here. She needed help, funding, new treatments to remain here.
As a stage IV patient myself, I completely understood her need and desire to make a difference now – while “We are Still Here.” My cancer had metastasized to a rib, some vetebrae and to my liver, and I was having a difficult time understanding how breakthrough treatments were going to be developed. When I saw information about the “Lisa Fund,” it clicked right away what a meaningful Fund this is, and what a difference it will make.
I used my entire address book and sent an appeal out to everyone I knew to contribute to the Lisa Dubow research fund. This generated significant response from my friends and family.
Then I got an email from Lisa Dubow. She knew I was a New Yorker and she was planning a visit to New York to do some advocacy work, including speaking to the media. She wanted to know if it would be okay if “Miss March takes you out to dinner.” Who could say no to Miss March?
I met Lisa Dubow in person for the first time in December 2006, just before I went in for a rib resection. She knew I was concerned about my upcoming surgery, and she put me at ease right away with some stories of her own. We chatted for two hours. What a warm, knowledgeable, friendly, and determined woman she was. She was thinner than her photo in the Colondar and her face was thin, but she was in fantastic spirits. We drank wine, we ate, we laughed, and we shared our stories.
Lisa and I kept in touch by email and by phone. I saw Lisa again at the Call on Congress in March 2007. The first thing I thought was how thin she had gotten. The first thing she said to me was “My….how thin you have gotten.” I did not realize it until later, but she was right. I had dropped a significant amount of weight since my surgery, even though I was feeling okay. She did not look okay, yet she was worried about my weight. That is the kind of person Lisa was. That is how I will remember Lisa. Concerned for her own survival…but concerned more about those around her.
Lisa was special and she was inspiring. Goodbye Miss March…. how appropriate that your month on the Colondar is March – Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Your spirit “Is Still Here” and your fund will be a legacy to you. The Lisa Fund will perpetually help all of those with Colorectal Cancer.
To contribute to the legacy of Lisa Dubow, visit the Lisa Fund page.