If there’s one video emblematic of the work I’ve done over the past 14 years, it’s probably this one, a fundraising video for cancer research. It’s work that I’m proud of. I’m lucky to have among my clients UW Medicine, an organization with a vast commitment to both treating and researching the underlying causes and possible cures for this disease. I’m a pretty empathetic guy, but always cancer has been something that happens on the other side of the camera. Until now.
My cancer diagnosis
One day at the beginning of May I noticed a lump in my throat. I’ll spare you the details, but after a month of ruling out other things, I got the word: throat cancer. Mine stems from HPV-16 infection when I was younger. I’m not alone in this – estimates are that at least 40 percent of the US population is positive for this virus, which is now preventable with a vaccine that wasn’t available in my day. I am one of about 1 percent of those infections that develop into cancer.
The good news, my doctor told me, is that if I was willing to undergo a brutal regime of chemotherapy and radiation, I had an 80 percent chance to beat it. Of course I took those odds. Most cancer patients are lucky to have 50/50 chance.
It’s now the end of August, and my last day of treatment was August 28. I’m in my first full week of recovery from treatment. Along the way, radiation in my throat took away completely my ability to taste food. Chemo made me as sick as I imagined it would, and then some. But I kept my hair. Not my beard – radiation on my throat fried that. Losing my ability to taste took the biggest emotional toll. I’m a closet foodie, and love to cook. It came as a shock to me how disgusting eating is when everything tastes like cardboard. Right now, food is like poison. Lucky, I accepted when given the option to have a stomach tube surgically implanted at the beginning of treatment, because I’ve relied on it exclusively to get the calories my body desperately needs to survive this treatment. I’ve lost about 15 pounds, and it could have been far worse. They say I’ll get my ability to taste back in about a month.
Cancer changes you. After all this suffering, I now know that I’m alive for a reason. Before cancer, I had a keen interest in making videos to support organizations in search of cures. But now, it’s different. Now, it comes from inside me. And it’s time for me to give it a voice.
After spending the past 15 years delivering projects in this space, I’m at the top of my game. And now, I’m doubling down. So if you work at a cancer research organization, hospital, or health care system that wants to unleash the power of storytelling, I want to partner with you. It’s personal for me now. And I can’t wait to see what we’d be capable of producing.
Let’s work together
I’m available and ready for assignments starting mid October, 2023. For the video above, I traveled to Texas, and I’m happy to travel anywhere. I also speak decent Spanish. Please pass this post along to anyone you know who works in a cancer field.
My portfolio of related work: https://vimeo.com/danmccoomb
Dan McComb, firstname.lastname@example.org, (206) 228-0780.
Call me, and let’s get to work making cancer a curable disease for more patients like me, and the extraordinary family in this video.