Meet Randall Broad. He is a Patient Empowerment Network board member and a 7-year lung cancer survivor. He attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual conference in Chicago, Illinois, the weekend of May 29 – June 2, 2015. This year’s theme focused on the patient experience. He identified a paradigm shift. He says the conversation focused on “putting the patient first [and] making the patient a huge part of the treatment equation.” Broad also says he left ASCO with an important message: value-based healthcare. Value-based healthcare places patients and physicians in a more significant role in examining all treatment costs and outcomes.
Make a Defining Decision
On March 28, 2008, Broad received of diagnosis of stage III non-small lung carcinoma. Currently, Broad is an executive-level small business owner and father to two beautiful children. Before his diagnosis, he said his health was a non-issue, as he had always been healthy. Following his diagnosis, Broad felt concerned with his care and made a critical decision. “I fired my ‘first’ crew,” says Broad. He identified this as the turning point for improving his outcome.
Broad reminds anyone with a new cancer diagnosis to interview their doctor. “It is so incredibly important that you find the right team. It is a team. It is not one person,” says Broad. Following his diagnosis, he reached out to the local hospital that had treated him his whole life. His care team referred him to an internal oncologist.
“When I interviewed the surgeon, he basically pushed me out of his room – I don’t think that was his intent, but that is what he did,” says Broad. From March 28th, 2008 – January 2009, he made a vital choice to mentally and physically accept his diagnosis. “I chose the cancer over letting it choose me—meaning that I am going to embrace this, accept it as part of my life because if I try to fight it, beat it, I figured it would probably win,” says Broad. His choice demonstrates a firm conviction to embrace cancer with hope and optimism. Early in Broad’s journey with lung cancer, surgery became the next viable option, but after a series of imaging studies, his cancer was deemed inoperable.
Find a Community of Patient-Advocates
Often when an individual receives a diagnosis, there is no specific set of instructions for where to look or how to find a network of survivors for advice. “You don’t go to the yellow pages and look it up,” says Broad. With lung cancer’s high mortality rate, finding an advocacy group is all the more challenging. He says it was not until he had lived a couple of years with the disease that he learned about advocacy organizations and focused on being a proactive patient-advocate in cancer communities.
With the vast amount of content available online, Broad says there is more information about the disease but not information about where to receive treatment. After moving past the first experience with a potential surgeon, he found himself at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). He says meetings with Dr. Renato Martin at SCCA validated the credibility of his surgeon. Broad says relationship-building is pivotal for quality patient care.
From August 2008 to November 2008, Broad received radiation and combined chemotherapy with radiation. He sometimes spent up to 13 hours a day at the University of Washington Medical Center and SCCA. To counteract the physical exhaustion from treatment and cancer, Broad attempted yoga, massages, facials, pedicures, acupuncture, and prescribed medication, however, these remedies only provided short-term relief.
Focus on What Truly Matters
At the time of Broad’s diagnosis in March 2008, his two kids were 13 and 14 years old—a highly formative time in their lives. Before being diagnosed with cancer, Broad says, “I didn’t spend as much time with my kids.” Previously, he was intensely focused on his business to provide a sustainable life for him and his children. Cancer opened the doorway for Broad to rectify the relationships with his children. “My kids are the most important aspect of my life,” says Broad. Through his conscious mindset to embrace cancer and the extraordinary moments with his children, he found himself cancer-free in 2009. Broad then published a personal memoir in 2010 to demonstrate how all human beings should live every day as if we have cancer. “Adversity is another step to your goals.” (Excerpt from It’s An Extraordinary Life – Don’t Miss It).
During a 2010 speaking engagement, Broad opened by saying, “it is the change that takes place when you get diagnosed with
cancer, with a life-threatening form of cancer. Things that used to be important are not as important, [and] things that are really
important take on a much greater sense. The sense of immediacy is really in front of you at all times.” His message centers on
encouraging everyone to live in a joyful and meaningful manner despite the hand that has been dealt.
Empower Cancer Communities Through Mindset
Broad and his children are committed to mindful decision-making and empowered thinking. When treatment concluded in January of 2009, Broad continued to have scans every couple of months. He says, “every year that passes, the chances of [cancer] reoccurring is minimized.” Broad was diagnosed with cancer over ten years ago and remains cancer-free today. He now shares his journey domestically and is committed to working with patients and families to be proactive patient-advocates.
Broad currently presents at about ten events a year. During one of his speaking engagements with sixty lung cancer patients,
twenty people approached him to say, “it never dawned on me to fire my crew, my oncology team.” Broad has dedicated his life to the empowerment of individuals with all types of cancer. Stay up-to-date with Broad’s latest speaking engagements and written work: It’s an Extraordinary Life – Don’t Miss It.