MADISON, Wis. - Fight Colorectal Cancer and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center are working together to train survivors and caregivers to advocate for further research. The Colorectal Cancer Research Academy has drawn survivors and caregivers from across the country for two days of training.
"This is the group of people who have a passion for making advancements for colorectal cancer," Dr. Dusty Deming, a lead researcher of the area of the disease at the Carbone Cancer Center, said.
Deming spoke to the group about the advancements his research is bringing to colorectal cancer treatment.
"This is a great opportunity for our local advocates to learn from this amazing group and for us to showcase our innovative research in precision medicine, imaging, immunotherapy, survivorship and prevention/screening," Deming said.
Deming began his research into colorectal cancer as a medical student. It wasn't long before it became personal.
"Two weeks after getting my faculty position, then I myself was diagnosed," Deming said.
Diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer, Deming faced eight months of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation. It changed both how he approaches life and his patients.
"It has changed me in more ways than anyone could possibly imagine. Anytime anyone (uses) the C-word, the cancer word, they now understand that each day is precious and that you shouldn't take anything for granted," Deming said. "I can look my patients in the eye and say I've been there. I don't know what it feels like for you, but I can tell you what it feels like for me and I can tell you some secrets of how you get through the chemotherapy."
Now a four year survivor, Deming helps to lead the colorectal cancer research at the Carbone Cancer Center with firsthand knowledge of its importance.
"In my research it has really shown me, for a lack of a better way of saying it, slapped me in the face, saying this is urgent. We need to do this research now. If an experiment can be done today, it should be done today," Deming said.