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Expert Interviews

Introducing the UnCancer Revolution

The UnCancer Revolution Crowdfund Video

UnCancer: The Revolution to Reverse Stage 4 Cancer

Generosity.com pitch video 1.0

Transcript of The UnCancer Revolution Crowdfund Video

There  were 14.1 million new cases of cancer around the world with 8.2 million cancer deaths in 2012.  Those numbers are expected to rise 70% by 2032.   Today, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime, that’s 40% of the people you know.

Hello, my name is Victoria Ferro and in my world, cancer has been the leading cause of death.  6 of my friends died of advanced cancer in 2015.  All of them were in their 40s or 50s.

These deaths underscore the urgency of finding ways to end this global plague once and for all.  I believe that today, in this particular moment of history, a confluence of new global realities make it possible for a concerted effort to finally rid the world of cancer.

I want to focus on helping the community where hope is most dim, and solutions most scarce.  Stage 4 is the last stage of cancer.  At this stage, a person may be seen as “incurable”, “terminal”, and “dying.”  At this point, cancer is considered a chronic disease that will bring the patient’s life to an accelerated end.

My mission is to offer more hope and more creative solutions to this beleaguered community.   I have a personal stake in this because I am a Stage 4 cancer survivor.

I was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in October 2005.  There’s hardly any research or information about this kind of cancer.   My search for solutions took me to 4 different countries.  8 years and 2 recurrences later in May of 2013,  the Stanford Cancer Center escalated my diagnosis to Stage 4.  By that time the tumor was as large as a melon protruding from my chest with 3 ulcerating open wounds.  Scans also showed a large tumor in my lung that looked like it could be invading several other organs.  3 different oncologists told me that I was incurable, inoperable and dying.   And yet, after a 27 month barrage of treatments that included chemo, radiation, hormonal treatment, and multiple surgeries, Dr. George Sledge, Chief of Oncology at the Stanford Cancer Center made this announcement in August of 2015

N.E.D. Announcement by Dr. George Sledge of Stanford Cancer Center

This is wonderful of course but being pronounced with No Evidence of Disease or N.E.D. does not necessarily equate to remission or a cure.  I need to know what to do to make sure this cancer doesn’t come back.  I also didn’t expect the PTSD that followed treatments.   The disappointment when Dr. Sledge told me I had to keep taking drugs that forced my ovaries to shut down. The trauma from the side effects of chemo such as fatigue, weakness, and bloating, that facilitated an out of control 50 lb. weight gain.   The drastic change of appearance from a beautiful young woman to a fat version of Gollum to someone old and misshapen I  don’t recognize. From the 5 feet of incisions, multiple drain holes that created unnatural shapes and scars reminiscent of Frankenstein. The neuropathy and stiffness of joints that affected my mobility and balance.   And the grief and bewilderment of going through this entire 10 year journey mostly alone. Though I had help, yes much help, I had no other caregiver in the day-to-day but myself.  Many people think I’m superwoman achieving the impossible, but believe me I am not.  It’s been 7 months since my last major surgery but I still have so much healing to do.  Emotional, Physical, Spiritual.

As I grappled with what to do next, it became clear I need to fully concentrate on Recovery and Prevention.   In 2016, my first priority is to pursue my best health and in parallel process, teach others what I learn.

I will leverage my experience and expertise as multi-awarded digital media producer, highly rated university educator, and award-winning essayist for this purpose.  I will teach every significant lesson I learned that brought me from dying to N.E.D.  It is already my practice to attend some of the world’s most elite medical conferences.  I’ve also learned from some of the world’s leading scientists, doctors and experts who can speak to this topic in a fresh and powerful way. I even joined a Protohack to rough prototype an app that will aid me in my own recovery and that could aid others too.  I will evaluate and curate the best knowledge, wisdom and tools that can be found anywhere that can move the needle to a cure or the next best thing.

Taking together all the intelligence I’ve gathered in more than 10 years of fighting cancer and the intelligence I’ve yet to discover, I will offer inspiration and education for Stage 4 cancer patients through unique media and services designed just for them.  Planned resources and services include a strategy manual, mobile app, basic and in-depth training, decision coaching, events and community that can significantly aid Stage 4 cancer patients in attaining their health goals.  The emphasis of the work is digital and online so that anyone with Stage 4 cancer may benefit, whether they are at work, at home or in the hospital bed, wherever they are in the world.

“UnCancer: The Revolution to Reverse Stage 4 Cancer”

Intelligence, Inspiration and Tradecraft for Stage 4 patients and survivors

“Because when you can reverse stage 4 cancer, you can reverse all cancer”

With this new revolution, we

UnLearn – every old myth or way of thinking about this topic.  We live in the beginnings of a massive disruption in the health industry.  And in the ultra-rapid development of science and technology in this field, elegant solutions will be found for complex problems that had never been solved before.

We

UnDo – ravages of the disease and the collateral damage of treatments both physical and emotional

We

UnEarth – solutions for restoration, healing, vigorous function and a vibrant satisfied life

We

UnCancer – because if you’re dead you can’t do anything

According to the World Health Organization, there is a 1 in 4 chance that I will be alive in 5 years.  That’s saying that I have a 75% chance of being dead in 5 years.  That’s a great prognosis compared to the predictions for many other types of stage 4 cancers.  

My mission in instigating The UnCancer Revolution is to upend these statistics.

If you’re a Stage 4 cancer patient, and you want to find a way live fully and enjoy longevity, you need to be part of this movement.

The UnCancer Revolution will dig deep into the subjects of

1) Science

2) Psychology

3) Spirituality,

And finally

4) Strategy that will all these tie disciplines together into a unique and powerful framework.

My oncologists are impressed by the way I ask questions and make decisions.  It appears that my unique process was an important factor in getting to  N.E.D. status.

My internal process was influenced by my graduate studies as an International Fellow at the Tulane University Freeman School of Business, where I studied Decision Science under Dr. Irving LaValle, my late Professor of Decision Theory, the 1996 recipient of the Frank Plumpton Ramsey Medal, which is considered “the Nobel Prize” of decision analysis   

Excellent decision skills are necessary tradecraft for the Stage 4 UnPatient.  UnPatients are people who have taken full responsibility for their own health care and will not abdicate decision making to anyone.  UnPatients are the CEOs of their own health.   Good decision practice is what will set her apart to achieve best possible health outcomes.  I will be teaching this skill in a way that is simple, thorough and powerful.   My goal is to turn Stage 4 cancer patients into powerful creative UnPatients like myself.  

The UnCancer Revolution’s mission is to deliver Intelligence, Inspiration and Tradecraft for the Stage 4 Cancer Patient.  It’s not only going to throw a monkey wrench into the status quo, it may change the Stage 4 experience forever.

Listen to what Kara Alikpala, Founding President of the ICanServe Foundation has to say:

“No one can imagine what it’s like to labor and deliver a child. Only mothers can claim they know. Same  thing for cancer.  It takes another cancer survivor to completely empathize with another . Then there is Stage 4 cancer. Many people think it’s the same as having cancer once and beating it.   Others simply think it means THE END.    But Stage 4 is more than a stage, it’s more than a number. It’s a whole different  universe,   that needs a different perspective, lifestyle, and navigational tools.   There is a huge population of Stage 4 cancer patients with unmet needs. Victoria Ferro has lived to tell. And live and love she has as loudly as anyone cannot imagine.  You cannot and must not ignore what she has to share “

Imagine more and more stage 4 cancer patients, shaking off sadness and shame, standing in their strength, challenging the status quo, being fully equipped to navigate and lead the charge towards their own health goals, empowered to make the highest quality decisions for their lives. Once this happens, I believe that health outcomes will improve.

I invite you to be part of the revolution and take action with this crowdfund today!  The more you give, the more Stage 4 cancer patients will benefit.  The Stakes are High, and we need you with us.  Let us be rid of cancer forever, one stage 4 UnPatient at a time.  Thank you!

 

When Exponential means Priceless

With Peter Diamandis when Exponential Medicine was still called Futuremed (2013)

With Peter Diamandis when Exponential Medicine was still called Futuremed (2013) not long after a tough 12-week regime of chemo

 

Inspiration is value because inspiration can save lives. Think about a person standing on a ledge waiting to jump to her death. If someone says something to her that inspires even a glimmer of hope, she will not jump. With severe life-threatening disease, if you think your situation is hopeless, why even try anything more?  It’s so easy to give up. Might as well go to Oregon and get euthanizing injections.  Or why not just curl up in a fetal position, stop taking meds, think depressing thoughts all day and wait for the inevitable.

Thankfully there are ways to counteract this.

One way is by acquiring knowledge backed by credible science. This is why conferences like Exponential Medicine mean the world to me. I have been following this particular conference and community for 3 years now. In this most elite of cross-disciplinary medicine conferences, I see the solutions that the smartest minds from around the world are working on and I realize that there is, in fact, hope. Some of the solutions I can implement today. For others, I have to wait a few years. They are all food and grist for hope for me. That’s part of why I can be strong despite all sorts of circumstances stacked against me.

That’s why when a doctor tells me “this is your best option” I can say, are you sure about that because I believe there might be a better solution. Have you ever thought about x or y? Most of the time a doctor would not have even thought of an option I put before them. It’s just not in their radar. But it’s in my radar because I make it my business to know what’s out there that can move the needle for me towards getting through stage 4 cancer alive. I will do everything in my power to not just get through this thing alive but be vibrantly healthy, fully functional and strong at the end of it, and thus able to work on my dreams, the dreams God put me on this earth to pursue.

I feel like I got a glimpse of what is at the very heart of Exponential Medicine when I had an encounter with Peter Diamandis on the last day of when Exponential Medicine was still called Futuremed in 2013.  I attended the conference just days after the conclusion of a tough 3 months of weekly chemo.  Given that I am not a physician or scientist, I had to shore up courage to approach Mr. Diamandis and tell him how I felt so inspired and encouraged and to thank him for the conference.  I did get to speak to him and also tell him of my challenge at the time, advanced metastatic breast cancer with an inoperable tumor. I did not go into detail, but oncologists then had told me that finding a cure was highly unlikely if not impossible, and palliation my only recourse.  One oncologist went so far as to tell me I was dying.

What Peter Diamandis did next I will never forget.  He put his hands on my shoulders and looked at me straight in the eye and with full presence asked “Did this give you hope?”  I understood him to mean the conference.   I said “yes!” with gratitude and enthusiasm.  He then gave me the most compassionate and warm hug.  That hug spoke volumes.  This man is authentic and truly wants to help people.  In that human gesture of shared hope, I understood that ultimately this conference at its heart was not just Disneyland for health and technology geniuses.  This is a place where people dream of ways to give people back their lives and create a future for them that just a year or two ago would not have been possible.  They don’t just dream this, they make it happen.

This hope and the knowledge, intuition and understanding gleaned from Exponential Medicine absolutely helped me get to N.E.D. No Evidence of Disease status just a few months ago.   Believe it or not, I got to N.E.D. after 10 years of fighting the disease without a human caregiver.  Exponential Medicine helped give me that gumption.  Check out my previous post to watch a video of Dr. George Sledge, Chief of Oncology at the Stanford Cancer Center make the N.E.D. announcement.

If Peter Diamandis asked me the same question after the conclusion of the 2015 conference just hours ago: “Did this give you hope?”  I would say yet again “YES, a resounding yes!”  Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you Exponential Medicine! How you have inspired and educated me to be a rockstar** UnPatient is priceless!  I shed a few tears at the end of this year’s conference because what you do is such triumph. You helped me get my life back. More power to your amazing efforts to exponentially give people’s lives back.

What is also significant is that as an innovator thinker entrepreneur creator, I believe I may have finally I found my tribe.  An ecosystem like no other in the planet.  Now I know why I am still here and very much alive.

What I am about to do, may it be exponential.

**what a couple of oncologists at Stanford call me

N.E.D. Announcement

Stanford Chief of Oncology Makes N.E.D Announcement

Dr. George Sledge Makes N.E.D. Announcement

Chief of Oncology of Stanford Cancer Center pronounces Victoria Ferro with No Evidence of Disease after 10 years fighting Advanced Stage Cancer

Last month I celebrated my 10th year of survivorship from my first diagnosis of Mucinous Carcinoma by Dr. Diana Cua through a core needle biopsy with results coming out October 5, 2005. I also celebrated the pronouncement of my oncologist, Chief of Oncology at the Stanford Cancer Center, that I am finally N.E.D. or No Evidence of Disease, after 10 years of fighting. This same time last year I was still recovering from a Lobectomy that excised one half of my left lung just two months before. December to January I went through 6 weeks of daily radiation and just last May had a major complex large lumpectomy with a free flap abdominal reconstruction. In between and till today I have been taking the hormonal drug called Lupron via a monthly injection.

To be N.E.D. after 10 years of fighting is definitely a milestone but the battle is far from over since I’ve already had 2 recurrences in the past.  A major challenge is keeping another recurrence at bay and that is a complex problem that requires multi-factorial thinking.  More on this on my next post.

– Victoria Ferro

Exponential Medicine 2014 is Streaming Live in UStream!

One of the most important things that Will Weisman, Executive Director of Conferences at Singularity University mentioned at his talk earlier is that for the very first time, Exponential Medicine is livestreaming to the public for FREE!  This is knowledge worth its weight in gold and I can’t recommend highly enough that you take the time to view the live stream, which previously was only available to participants at what many consider prohibitive prices.

Here’s are a couple of links to the live stream!  If I were you, I’d try to move my schedule in order to view it in its entirety if possible.

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/rn012481632

or

http://www.exponentialmedicine.com/live

I didn’t actually know that there was a livestream previously, otherwise I would not have planned on doing a liveblog, because a livestream basically defeats the purpose of a liveblog!  For this reason and others that I will explain in my next piece, I’m changing my coverage plans.  My next post will explain how I am shifting the way I will do my coverage that hopefully will provide the greatest value to the unpatient community and the community at large.

Specialized Physical Therapy for Cancer Patients Can Mitigate Up to 99% of Post Treatment Issues

by Victoria Ferro

Many cancer patients come out of arduous treatments feeling a lot worse than before they got started.  Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation, Hormonal Treatment each carry with it a long list of side effects that includes some deterioration of physical functioning, not limited to neuropathy, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, among many others.  According to Sharon Leslie, P.T, DPT, who specializes in helping cancer patients and suvivors regain  physical functionality pre and post treatment, physical therapy that is informed by a deep knowledge of oncology can mitigate up to 99% of these issues.    

As part of her talk at the recent Bay Area Cancer Connections Annual Conference entitled “Setting Expectations for Physical Recovery After Treatment” Ms. Leslie drew upon her many years of experience to help conference attendees understand the process of recovery for specific issues that challenge breast and ovarian cancer patients and survivors.  She says it is particularly important for patients who are complex cases, with multiple surgeries for example, to not try to recover by going directly to the gym and working out normally post treatment.  It would be important for patients whose medical histories and conditions are more complex to consult and work with an oncology physical therapist, so that recovery can be handled with safety, and proper timing.  Ms. Leslie says that the goal of Oncology Physical Therapy (OPT) is to release the former patient to full functionality so that he or she may do everything she used to be able to do, perhaps even more and fully engage themselves with the world that way with no obstacle.  She says that in this regard the benefits of OPT are not just physical, but psychological and emotional.  

It is interesting to note that not every Center for Excellence in the treatment of cancer in the US offers oncology physical therapy, not even Stanford Hospitals, which has a very evolved set of supportive services for cancer patients.  In my experience as a patient there, not one member of my care team present or past has mentioned OPT as an option.  After speaking with Ms. Leslie, it is clear that OPT is something I direly need as my case is complex.  Ms. Leslie and other OPT practitioners offers services to cancer patients and survivors from their offices at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.