In March 2004 I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
My treatment was intense and included chemotherapy before and after a colon resection surgery. I had no evidence of disease (NED) for one year, and then received more chemotherapy as well as a liver resection in July 2006, and have been cancer free ever since.
I have been an active cancer research advocate the entire time.
Finding My Passion
Although I had been following Fight CRC since my treatments in 2005, I wasn’t active in the organization or aware of research advocacy. Over ten years later in 2016, I received an email about a trip to the University of Colorado Denver to spend two days meeting with GI doctors and learning about the science behind colorectal cancer and treatments.
I decided to go because I have a general interest in and comfort with science; in fact, I started college as a chemistry major. The doctors I met in Denver were so impressive, but also so generous with their time and knowledge. I realized this was something I wanted to get involved with.
Front-Row Seat to Research
One of the most interesting things for me as a research advocate is to have insight into the cancer research process from beginning to end.
Proposal reviews for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have allowed me to see some of the many ideas at the proposal stage, with work done in the lab for all cancer types.
My work with SWOG, a global cancer research community that designs and conducts publicly funded clinical trials, allows me to follow the clinical trial process from creation through design, funding, and implementation. Membership on an Institutional Review Board (IRB) has shown me how clinical trials are conducted at the research institution level, and participation in ASCO guidelines panel has given me a front-row seat to see how trial results can affect clinical decisions that directly impact patients.
Research Has Real Impacts
I hope that I’m able to carry ideas across the various domains and therefore help get better treatments to patients and improve their quality of life.
Those of us who have survived CRC have done so because of the research that had been done up to the point of our diagnosis. I want to help continue that research to improve treatments so that others might have the same positive outcome that I’ve had with a very good quality of life.