A little more than four years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. While undeniably some of the hardest news I’ve had to hear, given my family history of colorectal cancer, I knew I was at risk. What I didn’t expect was to have to fight for a colonoscopy before I turned 50, but I’m so glad I did.
The same day of my coloscopy, my doctors also ordered a CT scan and found my cancer had spread, even though I had been experiencing no symptoms.
After surgery and six months of chemo, in June 2015 I was thrilled to hear I no longer had evidence of disease. Even with that good news, my doctors let me know that there was a chance my cancer could come back, and it was essential that I got regular scans so that any return of cancer could be caught early.
A routine CT scan nine months later revealed spots on my lungs. I started back on chemo, andwhen that didn’t seem to work, I was able to join clinical trials at the University of Chicago. As my doctors and researchers evaluate this innovation in treatment, we’re closely monitoring my health from scan to scan with one every eight to ten weeks.
My experience with cancer has been an eye-opening experience in many ways. However, perhaps most importantly, it taught me how important it is to catch it early so treatment can begin as soon as possible.
That’s why I was excited to travel to Washington, DC, to advocate for greater access to treatments for patients like me. I had the opportunity to share my story with lawmakers, so they understand how crucial it is to protect medical technology innovation from harmful policies like the medical device tax, which threatens to divert funding away from research that could lead to the next breakthrough in cancer detection. I also became a better advocate for my care and learned more about how I can stand up for others who are fighting their own battles with cancer.