Elaine Newcomb

Research Advocate

Eleven years ago, I was suddenly diagnosed with colorectal cancer with mets to the liver and given only months to live. Liver surgery was not possible in a small rural hospital, so we took off to find treatment and landed with Pittsburgh Medical Center, Liver Cancer Unit. I had to do two months of chemo prescribed by Pittsburgh and then came surgery. Because I found the right place at the right time, I am living today as an advocate for early diagnosis and regular colonoscopies.

I have been part of Fight Colorectal Cancer since 2011. I have served in several capacities as a Legislative Advocate, pushing for increased funding of colorectal cancer research, changes for Medicare to make screening and treatment more accessible, and encouraging colonoscopies for those under 45 years old. 

Several years ago, I was invited to participate in a new program, Research Advocacy Training and Support, known as RATS. I have attended many training sessions and symposia for this program and have learned a lot, which I share after every meeting I attend.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to become a curator of colorectal cancer trials, sifting out those that would somehow benefit colorectal cancer patients. This has been extremely rewarding and I hope to continue.

As a Research Advocate, there are things that stand out for which are encouraging. First, the patients that have called me for information in a tough situation and those that call to tell me they are NED. These are friends I will always cherish.  A year ago, I encouraged our hospital to continue with a telehealth program for oncology. It was a tough sell, but we made it and it made such a difference in our cancer patients. They can now use our infusion center rather than drive hundreds of miles for treatment. My age causes me to be concerned about treatment for geriatric patients. I am studying a lot of research coming out that I may be able to help with in some way.