Episode 46: A Geographer's Journey through Space, Time and Pancreatic Cancer
About our guest
Matthew Rosenblum is a pancreatic cancer survivor and BRCA-2 previvor based in metro Detroit with his loving partner, Natalie, and their 6 year-old pug, Monique. Trained as an academic geographer at Florida State University and the University of Kentucky - and with 18 months of remission under his belt - Matthew has pivoted career trajectories to cancer advocacy. He is currently doing freelance writing in the nonprofit world while he looks for a more permanent position in the cancer space. As he searches for meaningful work, Matthew has been preparing a memoir covering his wild ride with metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Watch the video of our episode on YouTube
On intersecting identities.
I think it's like something my oncologist said to me very casually after they discovered the tumor on my pancreas and throughout my gut. He said, ‘Your sister has a BRCA2 mutation and your mom died? Yeah, you're Jewish?’ Yes, probably. I wasn't offended or anything like that. It's just that there is a very clear connection historically between narratives of cancer and Jewish identity.
On advocating for himself.
I think it's a product of my personality, and I think it's also a way I've found to advocate for myself effectively, that sometimes doctors are not used to being spoken to in a certain way, and if you are willing to get up in their grill a little bit, oftentimes you can get what you want, or you can come to some kind of understanding. My oncologist is the Chief of Oncology at a major cancer research institute – he's the boss. And sometimes that colors people's judgment. So sometimes if you shake them a little bit, you might not steer the ship, but you can be involved in the direction, right? You're controlling the trajectory as a partner, at least.
Finding humor in dark moments.
I got an automatic notification with the rest of my results on the MyChart app and it used the word adenocarcinoma. And I didn't know that word. But I knew enough that I knew it wasn't good because cancer words, they all sound like they could be the bad guy in Star Wars, right? Like sarcoma. Honestly, are the people who write Star Wars, are they just stealing cancer words? Who's to say? In any case, I flipped out because I Googled adenocarcinoma, and it's not good.
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