My experience at the “Stand Up to Cancer” show - what a rush!
Posted Sep 22 2008 10:17am
I had the pleasure of attending the “Stand Up to Cancer” show live and in person last week. What a hell of an experience it was!
First off, it was at the start, a social networking and professional mingling event for cancer advocates from around the country who were all invited by SU2C to attend an early luncheon. It was great to reconnect in person at the illustrious Kodak Theater in Hollywood with folks like Planet Cancer’s Heidi Adams, Lanita Moss and Anna Cluxton from the Young Survival Coalition, Selma Schimmel from Vital Options and so many more. New relationships were forged and great opportunities have now been added to our horizon for amazing partnerships.
Our organization, iy, was offered four tickets for the event and we got our money’s worth. Joining both myself and iy Board Chairman, the venerable Dr. Leonard Sender, were Downtown Scotty Brown from Bravo Television’s Million Dollar Listing along with MTV’s Diem Brown, currently the host of the Showbiz webcast on Sky.com. Both Scotty Brown and Diem Brown - no relation - are survivors as well and former guests of mine on The Stupid Cancer Show. Scotty is currently battling the spread of his once-thought cured testicular cancer and Diem is coming up on her two year “cancer-versary “from being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The four of us had an incredible time. Not only was it an utterly incredible, celebrity-laden, star-studded and Hollywood-quality production but I (the greatest cancer skeptic on the planet) was believe it or not - actually moved, touched and to a somewhat lesser extent convinced that this effort is the first of its kind that actually has the potential to benefit young adults from a cancer research perspective.
It was reinforced that all of the proceeds for this event will directly benefit the American Association for Cancer Research or AACR. Now, I’ve never had any beef with AACR. They are a good organization that does truly innovative stuff. The part that I was happy to have gotten clarification on was that NONE of the money they receive from SU2C is being granted out to other organizations. Now *this* is awesome, for better or for worse. It’s good because their money will be theirs, proprietary to their own agenda which the young adult movement can continue to influence, nudge and push towards funding their own new “dream teams” to investigate young adult biology. The downside is that, since they are not granting any money away, nothing raised will actually be given to organizations like iy, Planet Cancer, Vital Options, etc. So our mission stands to continue to put pressure on AACR to recognize the need for new biological research specific to young adult cancers and hold them accountable for transparency in how they choose to use the SU2C funds.
But now here’s where it gets pretty awesome. I’m not sure if any of you caught this - I think some did because I got a few emails - but I’ll put it to you this way: When this whole thing went public back in May or June, I was horribly disturbed that there wasn’t a single mention or interest in anything young adult cancer related. BUT that changed as our movement’s organizations began to get listed on the Stand Up 2 Cancer Web site. It looked like a Web nod was all we young adults were going to get.
However, during the live broadcast, about 3/4 through, there was a very short cutaway to a young female survivor standing next to the guy from The Office who actually said - and I sort of quote - “Survival in young adults hasn’t changed in 30 years so let’s help ensure that this doesn’t become a lost generation.” Bam! Boo yah! We got some pimpage! Granted it was only 20 seconds but something tells me that if it wasn’t for all of you people out there, we wouldn’t have even gotten that. So thank you to the huddled masses of young adult survivors who are forging new ground and leading the revolution to bring about the change we need to get busy living.
So in conclusion, I will wrap up by saying that StandUp2Cancer is officially not evil. They are not pink - which is the greatest thing ever. They are not The American Cancer Society which is also the greatest thing ever. They are not about wristbands or ribbons. They are only about next generation and cutting-edge cancer research. Nothing but guys in white lab coats with test tubes, nanotechnology and lots of electron microscopes.
Granted for those of you who know me and have heard my tirades, we know that cutting edge cancer research is not the single most important thing to save lives for young adults. The top three reasons why survival rates have stalled since the Carter Administration are (1) late detection because doctors rarely take us seriously, (2) access to clinical trials and (3) a very low quality of life during and after treatment mainly due to a lack of age-appropriate peer support resources. So with that said and a slightly larger than normal grain of salt, SU2C and AACR are paving the way such that even in a world where the majority of young adults are still diagnosed with cancer in stage 3 and 4 there is hope we might benefit just a little more than we already do considering that chemo technology hasn’t changed in 20 years. This is about genomics, molecular medicine, targeted therapies and stem cell stuff - a better track from where we stagnate right now.
The cure? It’s a long way off, whatever it means…at least to this talk radio shock jock. For me the cure means not dying from cancer and hoping it never comes back.
Rock on, Matthew Zachary, CEO of the I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation (iy)
I’m Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation (iy) is a pioneering, survivor-led, advocacy, support and research organization, working exclusively on behalf of survivors and care providers under the age of 40. Its mission is to end isolation and improve quality of life for young adults affected by cancer.