Patient Leader Spotlight

Diane Bendsten

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer. By the time my doctors found the cancer, it had already metastasized to my liver and lymph nodes.

Despite the shock of my diagnosis, we moved quickly to treat the cancer. I had a surgery and began chemotherapy right away. One year later, I beat the odds – I had reached no evidence of disease (NED) status, meaning my cancer was gone for now.

As I’ve recovered from the whirlwind of a year, I’ve also focused my energy on helping other individuals who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Through my work in COLONTOWN, an online community of more than 100 “secret” groups on Facebook for colorectal patients, survivors and caregivers, we’ve connected survivors with the support they need and helped countless individuals learn more about their treatment options.

With each individual I meet through COLONTOWN, I realize how fortunate I am to be alive and healthy today. Yet, my health care journey continues. Every six months, I visit my doctor for an advanced medical imaging scan to ensure that my cancer has not returned.

Many of my fellow COLONTOWN friends and I would say we live “scan to scan” once we reach NED. This “scanxiety” fuels my desire to advocate for policies that protect our access to medical imaging and encourage medical innovation.

That’s why I recently joined Right Scan Right Time on Capitol Hill to advocate for repeal of the medical device tax. If this “sin” tax on medical device sales goes back into effect next year, it would take money away from innovation and contribute to the unsustainably high cost of medical care. Congress must protect access to the innovative medical scans that patients, like me, rely upon for our ongoing care.