David Dubin found out he had colon cancer at age 29. While the business development executive went through a low period, like anyone would, the diagnosis did not entirely surprise him.
“My father and grandfather developed colon cancer, so it was almost a rite of passage,” he says.
And like his father and grandfather — who went on to live long, productive lives — Dubin underwent multiple surgeries and eventually got a negative colonoscopy. But by 2007, he learned he had another cancer.
This time, though, genetic testing for hereditary cancer had become more accessible and Dubin went for it. His result showed he had Lynch syndrome, a genetic mutation that predisposes a person to different cancer types at a relatively young age. In Dubin’s case, he was also later diagnosed with a kidney tumor.
With this discovery, Dubin set out to support people affected by Lynch syndrome through education, research, and screening. “My wife and I looked around the advocacy space and didn’t see an advocacy group for Lynch syndrome,” he says.
This led them to set up the patient advocacy organization AliveAndKickn in 2012, with Dubin as Chief Patient Advocate and his wife, Robin, as Executive Director. They realized that despite the fact that approximately one in 279 Americans had a Lynch mutation — meaning it wasn’t rare — 95% were unaware of it.
So to raise awareness, Dubin launched a podcast using BlueJeans Meetings and started telling stories of people affected by Lynch syndrome, including survivors and their families.
“It’s a pleasure to listen to their stories. These people have been through a lot more than me. To hear their stories of resilience and bouncing back and being super productive is just so inspiring.”
Making a Difference Through Podcasting
Since its launch in January 2020, the podcast has had tremendous impact in increasing knowledge about Lynch syndrome and helping people get tested or learn about options for treatment and how to navigate the medical system.
“With our limited resources, the ability to do the podcast remotely using BlueJeans has been a huge help,” Dubin says.
He adds that choosing BlueJeans Meetings was an easy decision because he had used the video conferencing platform for work and knew how reliable it was.
“We’ve had a very good success with BlueJeans. We’ve used other meeting services and I have had a lot more network issues with them than BlueJeans.”
The high-definition audio featuring Dolby Voice also ensures the podcast recordings have crystal clear audio, helping keep audiences engaged.
When the pandemic made in-person advocacy activities such as public speaking impossible, Dubin went from recording one podcast every one to two months to a few each month. His interviews with patients, survivors, and their loved ones provided support, education, and encouragement during such a difficult period.
“I have well over 100 recordings. It’s been great. But what I find most appealing in doing all that is that we all have a story to tell.”
Creating More Awareness
Aside from the podcast, AliveAndKickn has recently hosted virtual talks. For example, an expert such as a genetic counselor is invited to speak about how they work with families of people with Lynch syndrome and how family members can get tested for the condition.
“We would have patients’ families listen in, and after the presentation we can have a question and answer session for about an hour. It’s been really beneficial,” Dubin says.
Believing that cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, Dubin continues his work to make a difference for people with hereditary cancer, including by building up a registry for Lynch syndrome patients.
“I was able to recover from it and continue on with my life. I believe others can do the same.”