Stage IV Colon Cancer Hits 35-Year-Old White House Staffer

The White House launched several messages over the past few weeks to encourage sign-ups for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The one that’s caught our eye:  news about 35-year-old Michael Robertson, deputy assistant to the president and deputy cabinet secretary, who happens to be a stage IV colorectal cancer survivor. Looks like one of the One Million Strong is working hand-in-hand with the president.

National Public Radio (NPR) reports that:

A White House official says in the coming days, the administration will call attention to stories like Robertson’s. While many parts of the Affordable Care Act are unpopular, this provision has broad support.

The release of Robertson’s story is intended to highlight problem areas in health coverage the ACA hopes to remedy; one being pre-existing conditions. Quotes from Robertson regarding his eye-opening experience 16 months ago, and his gratitude for health coverage, are peppered throughout the campaign.

Read the full NPR story here.

Incredible Story. Incredible Platform.

We aren’t sure what is most remarkable about this story. We definitely aren’t happy that someone within the White House was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. However, as an advocacy group, knowing that Robertson and his colleagues now have a personal tie to CRC and can understand the motivations behind our fight and legislative priorities, greatly encourages us. You better believe we’ve been on the phone, persistently looking for ways to gain even more political support now.

Looking beyond our advocacy, we’re inspired by Robertson’s story. Like many others diagnosed under age 50, his story sounds all too familiar:

“I went overnight from being completely healthy and exercising and all that to having this catastrophic disease.”

But while his life prior to diagnosis may appear like it’s the typical “under 50″ case, his remarkable recovery and treatment of stage IV CRC offers many of us hope:

In Robertson’s case, roughly $900,000 of treatment left him with no detectable cancer in his body.

He went from a stage IV colorectal cancer diagnosis a little less than a year-and-a-half ago to having no evidence of disease today. The NPR article mentions chemotherapy, radiation and surgery as part of his treatment plan. We’re encouraged to see such great results to what we can assume is the latest and greatest treatment for colorectal cancer. We’re hopeful that this story doesn’t only boost the discussion about ACA, but that it’s a constant reminder within the Hill community that healthcare policy needs to address access to prevention, treatment, and survivorship.

For us in the colorectal cancer community, the story also highlights the value and importance of ground-breaking medical research, especially for late-stage treatment options.  As of today, he is cancer free.

What a great story to bring awareness of colorectal cancer and spread a message of hope to all of the other survivors in the fight. From our hometowns to the White House – we are One Million Strong.

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