In this episode of WE Have Cancer, Allison Rosen joins to talk and discuss the changes that she’s seen in awareness, support, and research of colorectal cancer. Allison also discusses how social media has created a new way to reach younger people, and in turn, there is more research, treatment options, and support resources.
Allison Rosen is a public health care worker in colorectal cancer, outreach, and education prevention. She is project director at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houstin, which was just funded by the CDC for a project that is focused on colorectal cancer prevention.
Table of contents:
Allison Rosen is back on the podcast after a few years to talk about how much things have changed, within her career and within the focus on young onset, colorectal cancer. Younger people were getting diagnosed and passing away at an alarming rate. There weren't a lot of treatment options, or focus on early screening. Now, with advocates and others amplifying their voices, more research is being done. There is more of a direct advocacy for early onset cancer.
Understanding the Psychosocial Effects
Recalling the time that she was diagnosed with cancer, Allison asked for a psychologist or someone to talk to that was around her own age going through the same thing. She knew that there were going to be hard challenges ahead, but didn’t exactly know what they were. Allison had a lot of personal struggles with body image, and knew that there were people that struggled financially with the disease and treatment.
Support Options and Help
Allison talks about how much has changed from when she first got diagnosed to now. At treatment centers, they provide support for the aspects that might be hindered by treatment. From non-profits, to fertility specialists at hospitals, and support for the lasting effects of the treatment.
Different Resources to Bring Awareness
People can learn and become aware about colorectal cancer through programs like the Gastrointestinal American Society of Clinical Oncology. They hold virtual meetings for those that want to become an advocate. The power of social media is huge because experts can break things down for people to access whenever, wherever. It’s reaching a new sort of audience.
Changes in Diagnosis
The younger population are getting rectal cancer at a higher rate, which means they need more treatment options and research. With less of a stigma, and more people willing to speak up and talk about it, it’s allowing for more support and awareness. Everyone is now listening - and slowly breaking down the stigma of this type of cancer. The more light that is shed on the topic, the more research.
Importance of Prevention and Early Detection
The conversation now is based on prevention by leading a healthy lifestyle and trying to detect it early on. There are studies that are trying to find out why it happens, and it’s moved towards a focus on the gut microbiome. There is a science behind it, but it still doesn’t exactly explain why younger people are experiencing it.
Passion For Public Health Field
Allison aims to give patients and survivors the opportunity to get involved in treatment, research, and creating support groups. She gets direct feedback from the population that is experiencing it, and tries to represent the collective voice by asking questions in the public health field.
Barriers That Patients Face
A lot of patients and providers are learning more about the disease because people are speaking out and speaking up about their experiences, especially the barriers that they face. Allison’s project that she’s working on is to identify barriers and help patients and survivors solve them.