Part 1 of 3: National Cancer Prevention Month 2020
There are number of things that have helped me stay really positive on my cancer journey. I’ve spoken a lot in past updates about the incredible power of family, friends, faith, and hope. (They are no doubt my special superpower.) In this post, in the spirit of National Cancer Prevention Month, I’d like to share a bit about some of the amazing advances in cancer science and technology that have been just as inspiring and critical to my successful treatment to date.
Before I go there, let me acknowledge that I am incredibly fortunate to have very, very strong health insurance (through my employer) and local access to one of the Top 10 cancer hospitals in the United States. Not everyone does and that is our national challenge in a nutshell. It shouldn’t be this way. If you need the type of treatment I’m describing here, you should be able to get it throughout the nation … without going broke!
Now, on to that picture. It’s a pretty amazing shot – something I think about often, and one I believe saved my life. You see, that’s me! More specifically, it’s my liver. Back in October 2018, as I was getting prepped for my 3rd cancer operation at UCSF in San Francisco, my surgeon, Dr. Carlos Corvera, showed me this image on his iphone. With fantastic gurney-side manor, just 5 minutes ahead of rolling me into surgery, Dr. Corvera explained this image is actually a 3D rendering developed from my CT scans.
– Green is gallbladder.
– Purple are bile ducts.
– Blue are hepatic veins.
– Red is the aorta.
– Gold/yellow are the tumors we were after.
Dr. Corvera told me he used this image to help determine his surgical approach, adding two things. 1) He was sorry he didn’t bring the 3D glasses from his office so that he could make the image hover over the iphone and spin it for me 360 degrees. And, 2) this image revealed some hidden complexity about the location one of my tumors that was only visible with the computer-generated 360 view. Dr Corvera went further to say this information really helped him better evaluate my situation and he adjusted our surgery plan accordingly. (What was the change, you might ask? Well, rather than remove each tumor individually, the decision was made to remove approximately 60-65% of what you see here. Yep, you read that right.) That’s all pretty damn incredible! I am confident I would not be in the great shape I’m in today without the benefit of this incredible technology.
I share this to give you some context of what cancer science and technology can look like today from the patient’s perspective. And note, this is just one very small example of the many amazing breakthroughs that are happening every day across computer-aided visualization, new surgical technics, precision-targeted radiation methods, chemotherapy formulation, and immunotherapy treatments. Collectively, these advances are changing cancer treatment for the better for all of us; patients, survivors, our supporters and anyone that might draw a tough cancer card in the future. That’s really great news, provided we can make these solutions both accessible and affordable to the millions worldwide who need them.
Of course, I hope you never need this stuff. The best thing you can do to ensure you never do is take some very easy preventive steps today. That is, right NOW. Call your doctor and ask if it’s time for a screening. It could save your life.
Support cancer research.
P.S. I’m about 2 months cancer-clear as of this writing and I am now following a schedule of monitoring scans with my UCSF team. (Once you are in the cancer club, you are in it for years, even if you get clear!)
And, here are some great things on the calendar I’m looking forward to in 2020:
– February 7 – Cycle for Survival with Team Salesforce, San Francisco
– March 5 – Conquer Cancer Foundation, Visit to HQ, Alexandria, VA
– March 28 – San Francisco Big Climb (61 Floors of Salesforce Tower!), San Francisco
– May 15/16 – Our CONQUER 2020 Bike Ride with Team Crafty and Friends, Petaluma CA
Reach out if you’d like to join me for any of these! – MC