Thoughts from my travels

I spent Thursday-Saturday in Washington, DC. Now Eric is spending 3 days in Los Angeles. Welcome to the modern 2-income household, I guess.

Highlights from my trip:

Washington, DC is beautiful this time of year. It was around 65-75 degrees the entire time I was there and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I stayed at the Club Quarters hotel, about 2 blocks away from the White House and walked as much as I could to get around. Didn’t have much choice sometimes, the traffic was a nightmare and for destinations that weren’t convenient by Metro it was faster to walk.

Thursday night I went to a happy hour sponsored by our donations & advocacy platform, GetActive. We’ve been very happy GetActive customers, as it makes collecting donations online much easier for us than if we had rolled our own solution. GetActive is also what makes our advocacy efforts possible, allowing me to configure complicated action alerts in a few clicks.

Anyway, I was chatting with a woman at the happy hour who does blog consulting for nonprofits. I was telling her about the C3 blogs I set up and how pleased we’ve been with the response. She asked me something about our blogroll. “We don’t have a blogroll.” She was surprised, and insisted that we wouldn’t see the results we wanted out of the blogs without it. She said that the point of having a blog is to build community with bloggers. I challenged that assertion. When I
designed the C3 blogs, I didn’t give the blogosphere too much thought. Sure, we tag to Technorati and ping to all the right places. But that was almost icing on the cake. The real target was Google. Folks are looking for colorectal cancer news and information and they’ll find it on the site. We now have 364 pages indexed, most are from the blogs. We saw our page rank go from 0 to 6. The community we’re building is of advocates, not bloggers. If the advocates we connect
to blog (or want to), that’s great. But that’s not the goal or even something that’s on our radar right now.

Friday afternoon we hosted our very first webinar. We’re having a training of grassroots advocates in Washington, DC at the end of the month, coinciding with One Voice Against Cancer’s Lobby Day. OVAC Lobby Day brings cancer advocates in from around the country to speak directly to their elected reps about cancer funding at the federal level. We’re bringing in 19 advocates 2 days early, doing a training specific to C3 and colorectal cancer, rolling right in to
the OVAC program. The webinar was to introduce ourselves and go over some homework we’re asking the advocates to do before arriving in DC on April 24th. We’re already WebEx WebOffice customers, so they gave us a good price on a one-time use of their conferencing software. I’ve attended these conferences, but never hosted one before. It went well. Very easy to load
up a PowerPoint and go through the program. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the recording adapter for the telephone so we couldn’t record the conference.

Friday night, I attended the launch party for a new magazine: CR Magazine. CR is produced by the American Association of Cancer Research. AACR is holding their annual meeting this week. Kate Murphy, our in-house blogger, is at the meeting and she’s on the cover of the magazine, too. The magazine is aimed at a lay audience, bridging the technology and research around all cancer types. Nancy (C3’s President) is on the Editorial Board. The party
itself was at the Ronald Reagan Building. The hotel I stayed at was just north of the White House, about 1 mile from the party. Traffic was bumper to bumper thanks to all the tourists in town for the cherry blossoms, so I walked instead. I’ve been to Washington many times in the past 6 months, but this was the first time that I spent the majority of the trip downtown. It’s truly a beautiful city. The buildings are grand, intimidating and regal.

Saturday, I staffed a table at AACR’s Public Forum. Here’s a picture of our table (using the camera in my phone):


We give away blue star awareness pins and blue bracelets, each with a tag that talks about the services we have for patients on our website. Our material is aimed at folks who are already familiar with colorectal cancer. What we don’t have, yet, is general “What is colorectal cancer?” print materials. They’re under development now.

I had a sad exchange with a man who came to the table. He appeared to be in his late 50s/early 60s, well dressed. I say that he was African American, only because African Americans are at higher risk for colorectal cancer. He said he saw on TV about someone who had cancer and took medicine, some pills, and he was cured. A miracle. He wanted to know what that medicine was. I said that there were many different treatments for cancer and some work better on certain people than others. He then goes on to tell me
that he has bleeding. Bad bleeding. He knows he has colon cancer and he came to the forum to find out about this medicine and he was very upset that “you people” keep pushing on research and science and these treatments that take too much time. He has to work, he doesn’t have time for all this science-talk he just wants me to give him the medicine so he can go on his way. He wasn’t threatening or menacing, just angry. And probably scared. I asked him if he’s seen a doctor that diagnosed cancer. He asked me what
kind of doctor does that. I said that he needs to start with his regular doctor or a gastroenterologist who will do a test called a colonoscopy and blood tests and that will tell if he has cancer or not. Then he would go to an oncologist for treatment. I pointed out that bleeding can be caused by other conditions too. It may not be cancer, but he needs to find out for sure. He said he doesn’t have time for any tests. He won’t be poked and prodded. He just wanted medicine. I was gentle with him, but I explained
that medicine for colon cancer is very tricky and can only be prescribed by an oncologist, someone who specializes in treating cancer. He started ranting about “you people” again, and how this was all just a waste of time and it wasn’t what he came here for and he walked off. A few minutes later he came back with a notebook and pen and wanted to know what foods he should eat to get rid of his cancer. I explained that there aren’t foods that treat cancer. There may be evidence to support that certain foods can
help keep cancer away, but once you have it the only way to get rid of it is through surgery and/or medicine that only an oncologist can give. “No no no surgery” and he walked away. He wouldn’t give me his name. He did take some of our brochures and newsletters, so I have to pray that someone who cares about him sees the material and contacts us or a professional that can help him. It’s difficult to see someone who so desperately needs help but won’t take the help you have to offer.