The Currently Incurable Scientist: Turning a Cold CRC Tumor Hot
The first “science” column of my new patient advocacy writing project “The Currently Incurable Scientist” on the Fight Colorectal Cancer website has been published! As I discussed in the last post – I am really looking forward to using this new monthly column to fulfill one of the original goals for my personal blog: to discuss the science behind new treatment strategies approaching or in clinical trials – to help shed light on the world of CRC experimental therapies for patients, caregivers, family and even oncologists!
Pulling back the curtain
Writing this first post was quite the learning experience for me! It seems like my entire recent life has consisted of attempting new things and pushing the boundaries. I can honestly say: in 2015, each & every day for me has involved an adventure of some sort – mental, emotional, spiritual and/or physical. Regardless of details, I think that is part of being a Stage IV cancer patient – your life consists entirely of continuously trying to push boundaries (in one way or another) – status quo basically gets thrown over the shoulder the day of your diagnosis.
Writing for a professional website is more challenging than I had ever guessed – definitely more pressure than the stream of conscious writing I do here, where Admiral Akbar can help me out as needed! With the added spotlight of being on a major CRC website, the published post was carefully edited by myself & multiple editors to make sure there were no mistakes (although admittedly some complex details were simplified), nothing that could be misconstrued and importantly all the information could be easily understood by a wide swath of the patient population. That last part is very important. Keep in mind that CRC hits all demographic backgrounds and a portion of the readership are going to be in “bad medical news panic mode” – so I tried to be very conscious of that in terms of level of detail and wording choice. Having two editors was immensely helpful! My goal was to minimize jargon & instead focus on communicating key concepts in an easily understood way in order to help facilitate discussions by patients and their medical teams. At the end of the day, the entire goal of the column is to help fellow patients. In theory this sounds straight-forward, in practice it was actually quite challenging! All of this done within word count limits lower than what I can use here. On this blog, I could write something as long as War & Peace as a post if I wanted to – not that anyone would actually make it past the first 2,000 words!
As promised, I focused my first column on the hottest area of oncology research right now: immunotherapies! This is such a broad field of research, I actually plan multiple posts on different areas of it. This week’s column “Turning a Cold CRC Tumor Hot” was split into two halves – to make the information a bit more easily digestible. Part 1 (click here) explores why recent immunotherapy breakthroughs have worked in multiple other types of cancers but not for most CRC… Part 2 (click here) then follows up this “explanation of the problem” with a number of next generation experimental immunotherapies currently in CRC clinical trials. These agents were designed to hopefully get around the issues encountered by the previous generation of drugs!
Although as a scientist, it felt weird to not include more details – as a patient advocate/communicator I think the level of detail is very good for the intended audience. I am proud of how these posts turned out – I hope you find them interesting and informative as well! I have received countless thank you messages from fellow Stage IV patients and their caregivers – which makes all the hard work worth it! Due to the low word count of the posts limiting the information presented, if you have follow-up questions – please feel free to email me or ask them for group benefit in the comments below! I love talking science, especially oncology!