Hoosier Survivor Stories

In June, 2011, I was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer. No family history. No genetic disposition. At 37 years old, a healthy, working mother of 3 young children, why would I get this? Researchers still don’t know the scientific “why” the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing in those under 50 years of age. But I believe the reason “why” I was diagnosed with this ugly disease is to help others. I was diagnosed so I could spread the word, that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.  

Colorectal cancer is preventable and treatable. Many, like myself, go on to live productive lives once our treatment is completed. But others are not so fortunate. That is why it is important to listen to your body, be your own best advocate, and get a colonoscopy!  

In the fall of 2011, I started to notice a pain in my lower right abdomen. Nothing major, but enough that I went to have it checked out by my general practitioner.  She told me that as a working mother of three whose husband had a stressful job, I probably just needed a break. She sent me home with some pain killers and a bottle of Tums. This was my only symptom and even though I continued to visit my GP, cancer never entered the conversation. Kidney stones, irritable bowel syndrome, and an ulcer were all considered.  

It wasn’t until I was physically unable to stand when I drove myself to the emergency room that an MRI and CT scan were performed. This was over 7 months after my initial complaint. Test results showed a tumor on my right side and I was rushed into emergency surgery. 48 hours later, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  

Colorectal cancer treatment is not fun. Chemotherapy and radiation are not the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in my life. In fact, they are the most horrible nightmares that I have ever been through. But, I am here. I am alive. I saw my daughter graduate high school and college. She recently got her first job. These are milestones that I wasn’t sure if I would ever see. I’m lucky and I know it. 

Many others are not so fortunate and many have similar stories of misdiagnosis and providers that don’t consider colorectal cancer in those under 50 years of age. That is why it is so important to listen to your body, to be your own best advocate, and to insist on a colonoscopy if you have any symptoms that lend themselves to a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Don’t blow off a pain in your side, continual diarrhea, or blood in your stool. Contact a provider and insist on getting to the bottom (pun intended) of your symptoms.  

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I was only 37. My children were 11, 6, and 4 years of age. While I carry physical scares, we all carry emotional scars from that time. Surviving cancer is not easy, but it can be done. My family is proof of that, while no child should see their mother go through what I have been through, I am here. Thank you for letting me share my story. I hope it helps even just one person. 

COVID-19 and Cancer Resources

Considering rapidly changing medical information relating to COVID-19 and oncology, several organizations have developed resources available to the public.

American Cancer Society Support Resources

We’re here for you and your patients 24/7 – 1-800-227-2345 – Our trained Cancer Information Specialists can answer questions 24 hours a day, every day of the year to empower you with accurate, up to date information to help patients make educated health decisions. We connect patients, caregivers, family members, and medical staff with valuable services and resources. Our Cancer Information Specialists can be contacted by phone (1-800-227-2345) or Live Chat – www.cancer.org/about-us/online-help/contact-us.html.

Indiana COVID-19 Response ECHO

The Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health ECHO Center at IUPUI uses Project ECHO to share knowledge and best practices across practices and communities. ECHO uses web-based Zoom videoconferencing to allow participants to get real-time answers to their questions.

Indiana COVID-19 Response ECHO sessions are Wednesdays from 8:00-9:15am ET. They will be hosted weekly for 6 weeks (and longer, if needed). 

The Indiana COVID-19 Response ECHO will feature public health and clinical leadership that will share perspectives and best practices for addressing COVID-19 in Indiana communities during the evolving pandemic. Curriculum topics for this program will include: Infection Control Practices, Expanding Telehealth Services, Screening and Protocols for Testing, and much more! All members of the healthcare team or individuals responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their community are welcome to join. 

For questions or more information, Please contact Andrea Janota, 317-274-3178 or email ajanota@iu.edu 

Other Resources 

Save the Date: ICC 2020 Annual Meeting

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is closely monitoring a pandemic of the 2019 novel (new) coronavirus or COVID-19. The ICC Annual Meeting in-person event is subject to the COVID-19 social gathering and safety guidelines established by ISDH and local authorities. More information about the Annual Meeting safety precautions to come. For any questions or concerns, please contact Mary Robertson at Mary@IndianaCancer.org

The ICC is excited to announce the 2020 Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC) Annual Meeting – Cancer Prevention in the 21st Century. The Annual Meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, at the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center located in Downtown Indianapolis.

Spots are filling up quickly so be sure to register now>>>

The ICC Annual Meeting is a unique event that brings together the diverse, broad spectrum of organizations and professionals needed to cause action and create meaningful change in cancer prevention and control. Attendees at this meeting have an extraordinary opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with a wide variety of experts from the Indiana cancer community.

The objective of this year’s annual meeting is to explore the evolution of cancer care and prevention throughout the state, specifically as it relates to legislative changes, HPV-related cancers, tobacco cessation, and more. Our goal is to stimulate discussion, collaboration, and strategic planning among statewide partners. Stakeholders will convene to address innovative practices as they relate to the full continuum of cancer prevention and care.

The ICC is honored to welcome Tamika Felder, Cancer survivor and award-winning women’s health advocate. Tamika is the Chief Visionary at Cervivor – a nonprofit dedicated to cervical cancer advocacy and support. Named a “Cancer Rebel” by Newsweek in a 2017 cover story, Tamika is a highly sought-after speaker on cervical cancer advocacy, cancer prevention, HPV education, and living life with purpose after cancer. She is the author of “Seriously, What Are You Waiting For? 13 Actions To Ignite Your Life & Achieve The Ultimate Comeback.” Tamika currently serves on the steering committee of the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable. She’s shared her story and experiences on Presidential Cancer Panels convened by the White House. An award-winning television producer, Tamika is currently filming a documentary about cervical cancer, the women living with it, and the vaccine to prevent it. Her story of patient-to-advocate / survivor-to-Cervivor inspires and mentors not only patients and medical communities, but anyone who has struggled with obstacles in their life. Learn more about Tamika’s work at Cervivor.org and TamikaFelder.com.

We are also thrilled to welcome Robert Winn, M.D., director of VCU Massey Cancer Center. In this position, he oversees a cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute that provides outstanding cancer care, conducts groundbreaking research to discover new treatments for cancer and offers high-quality education, training and community outreach programs. In addition to directing the activities of Massey’s 205 research members – researchers and physicians from 38 departments in 3 colleges and 4 schools at VCU – he also manages a research laboratory at VCU. His current basic science research, which has been supported by multiple National Institutes of Health and Veterans Affairs Merit awards, focuses on the cellular pathways that drive the development and progression of lung cancer and the role of cell division arrest in lung cancer. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 published manuscripts in peer-reviewed academic journals. Winn is committed to community-engaged research centered on eliminating health disparities. He is a principal investigator on several community-based projects funded by the NIH and National Cancer Institute, including the All of Us Research Program, a NIH precision medicine initiative. He has received national and international acclaim for his efforts to empower underserved patient populations, improve health care delivery and ensure equal access to cancer care. 

Registration for this event is free and lunch will be provided. Register here.

This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s) ™ and ANCC contact hours by Indiana University School of Medicine in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Nursing.

Lunch & Launch into Cancer Data!

A Data Webcast Presented by the Indiana Cancer Consortium

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

12:00 to 1:00 pm EST

Cancer data can be daunting, but the Indiana Cancer Consortium is here to help! The ICC has developed a suite of data resources to help you get the information you need – for completing your next grant application or deliverable, planning or evaluating your big project, and other cancer data needs. During this webcast, we will take a look at each of these resources, and show you how to get up-to-date cancer statistics.

Target Audience: Local health departments, healthcare professionals, academics, not-for-profits, community organizations/task forces, and anyone else interested in up-to-date cancer data. 

Join us over lunch to launch into cancer data!

Register Now!

Apply Now!

Grant Opportunity Available

The Indiana Cancer Consortium is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity for a multi-phase grant initiative with select cancer centers or hospitals to focus on health systems change for tobacco treatment across Indiana. In order to help address the high smoking rates among those living with cancer, these funds support the development of statewide hospital and cancer treatment centers that are tasked with implementing evidence-based tobacco prevention and cessation efforts according to area needs. This funding opportunity includes a baseline assessment of current tobacco prevention and control practices and the development of a 12-month implementation work plan to address specific barriers and gaps in tobacco cessation efforts supported by the ICC Tobacco and Prevention Cessation Manager (TPC Manager).

Project funding is up to $26,000 dependent on the number of organizations awarded. The awarded organization(s) will commit to championing the long-term effort to develop and evaluate evidence-based policy, systems, and environmental change strategies, as outlined in the Indiana Cancer Control Plan. Complete details of project deliverables can be found in the request for application and technical assistance will be provided throughout the project period. 

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee, using a systematic technical acceptability review process. The quality and technical merits of the application will be scored using an objective set of criteria.

To download the application, click here.

Download the PDF!



In partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), ICC membership, and partnering organizations, the Indiana Cancer Consortium is proud to release our Indiana Cancer Facts and Figures: Fifth Edition!

At the time of publication, this report provides the most recent and accurate data for the state of Indiana, covering a wide variety of current cancer issues and trends, including cancer incidence, mortality, and survival statistics, as well as information on decreasing the risk of cancer, cancer symptoms, risk factors, early detection, and treatment.

We will be hosting a webcast to help members become more familiar with the data and better understand the Facts and Figures. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

The ICC would like to thank the ISDH and American Cancer Society for their organizational partnership in the development of this report. We also thank all those who helped make this report a reality, including section authors, report editors, and data contributors. The time, resources, and expertise shared will establish this report as a leading tool for Indiana’s cancer prevention and control efforts. Furthermore, we also recognize the value of all those who will now take this report and act according to its findings.

Registration Now Open

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Care ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) on September 17! The Cancer ECHO will deliver continuing education and actionable learning to health professionals in order to improve delivery of cutting-edge cancer care. Experts from the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, the Indiana State Department of Health, the IU School of Medicine, Riley Hospital, the Indiana Chapter of the American Cancer Society, and the IU Simon Cancer Center will provide up-to-date cancer education and evidence-based strategies to health professionals across the state and support implementation of the Indiana Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020.

Project ECHO is a case-based learning system and guided practice model that increases medical education and workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. Healthcare providers from multiple locations will connect with a specialist or team of specialists through video conferencing at regularly scheduled times. ECHO provides a forum for using case presentations to engage experts and learners in an “All Teach, All Learn” conversation. The key to ECHO’s success is moving knowledge, not patients to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Cancer ECHO is free to all participants. To participate in this ongoing, interactive, and relevant learning, all you need is access to the Internet. Participating with a webcam is highly encouraged but not required. No cost CME credits will be provided to all participants.

Additional benefits include:

  • Enabling providers to practice at the top of their licenses by confidently treating patients with common complex conditions.
  • Allowing patients to stay in their local communities and receive treatment from their own healthcare providers in their medical homes.
  • Enabling healthcare providers to acquire new skills and competencies.
  • Becoming part of a community of practice, increased professional satisfaction, decreased feelings of isolation when practicing in rural and underserved communities.

ECHO sessions are 90 minutes and include a brief didactic presentation of a topic related to cancer care and case-based discussions of patients submitted by participants. Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Care ECHO clinics will begin on Tuesday, September 17 and are scheduled every 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 12:00pm-1:30pm ET for one year. We know that busy providers may not be able to join every ECHO clinic. Each ECHO clinic will be archived so registered participants can see what they missed! Please join us as your schedule permits.

Please click here to complete the online registration. Space is limited. For questions or more information, please contact Anyé Carson by phone (317-278-9725), email (carsona@iu.edu), or visit our FAQs page and the IU ECHO Center website.

ICCP Dashboard Released!

The ICC Data Committee has created an online dashboard as an interactive reflection of in the Indiana Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020 (ICCP)! We encourage members to utilize this dashboard in conjunction with the ICCP to monitor progress on objectives and strategies. Our hope is that this dashboard will provide a visual experience for our members to analyze data, trends, and strategies of the Plan and reflect the baseline data, our goal, and where we currently stand. Data will be updated as it becomes available. View the ICCP Dashboard >>> The dashboard is broken into an All Measures/ overview tab, as well as breaks down objectives from the Primary Prevention, Early Detection, Treatment, and Survivorship priority areas. Members are able to utilize the scroll function beneath each bar chart to view the data for the corresponding strategies. Each objective lists corresponding strategies taken directly from the ICCP to encourage stakeholders and organizations to address these objectives. Be sure to bookmark this site so you can visit the dashboard and utilize the data and strategies for projects, grants, trend analysis, and more!

2019 Annual Meeting

2019 Annual Meeting, The Future of Cancer Prevention and Control

The ICC is excited to announce the 2019 Indiana Cancer Consortium (ICC) Annual Meeting – The Future of Cancer Prevention and Control. The Annual Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, at the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Culinary Center located in Downtown Indianapolis.

Spots are filling up quickly so be sure to register now >>>

The ICC Annual Meeting is a unique event that brings together the diverse, broad spectrum of organizations and professionals needed to cause action and create meaningful change in cancer prevention and control. Attendees at this meeting have an extraordinary opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with a wide variety of experts from the Indiana cancer community.

The objective of this year’s annual meeting is to explore the future of cancer prevention and control throughout the state, specifically as it relates to healthcare disparities, HPV-related cancers, colorectal cancer, and tobacco cessation. Our goal is to stimulate discussion, collaboration, and strategic planning among statewide partners. Stakeholders will convene to address innovative practices as they relate to the full continuum of cancer prevention and care. 

We are honored to welcome Suleika Jaouad, an Emmy Award-winning writer, speaker and cancer survivor. She wrote the acclaimed New York Times column Life, Interrupted and is the subject of the accompanying video series, which chronicled her journey with leukemia throughout her early twenties. She has written reported features for New York Times Magazine, NPR, Vogue and Glamour, among numerous other publications. Her highly anticipated debut memoir, Between Two Kingdoms, is forthcoming from Random House. Listed among Mogul’s “35 Under 35” most influential and inspiring young women worldwide, Suleika travels the globe sharing her story of making the most of a life, interrupted and empowering others to find purpose in pain and transform challenges into creativity. 

We are also thrilled to welcome Edith Mitchell, MD, FACP. Dr. Mitchell, board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, has spent her medical career helping individuals in medically underserved areas to realize that simple changes in lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on cancer care. Through her work, Dr. Mitchell has demonstrated the importance of community service and outreach, especially to those individuals who may not have the means to seek out more conventional medical advice.

Attending the ICC Annual Meeting and participating in ICC coalition activities is a significant step in reducing our cancer burden. Join us as we look forward to a day full of cross-collaboration and networking with our state’s knowledgeable and passionate cancer advocates!

Registration for this event is free and lunch will be provided.

2019 Award Nominations: We are currently seeking nominations for individuals and organizations for the 2019 ICC Awards! Do you know or work with someone who is tireless in their cancer prevention and control efforts? Nominate them here. Winners will be awarded during the Annual Meeting award ceremony.

Full agenda to be released shortly.

Thank you to our 2019 ICC Sponsors!

The Indiana Cancer Consortium is beyond grateful and appreciative of all of our generous sponsors. Without them, we would not have the opportunity to provide our members with the Indiana Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020, the 2019 Annual Meeting, District 9 HPV Summit, and upcoming Indiana Cancer Facts and Figures: Fifth Edition.

Title Sponsor: Indiana University Simon Cancer Center

Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health


American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

Indiana Immunization Coalition

Cancer Support Community of Central Indiana

Digestive Health Associates

For sponsorship opportunities in the coming year, please reach out to Rishika@IndianaCancer.org.