“It’s just about good humanity.”
-Dave Bjork, Research Evangelist
Dave Bjork: Raising Awareness
Dave Bjork was a healthy young man pursuing his banking career when he came down with what seemed like pneumonia. But that just didn’t resonate with him. He played basketball; he was in great shape; and he was just 34 years old.
Dave’s intuition was correct. It wasn’t pneumonia; it was cancer. Lung cancer.
Dave had never smoked, but he found himself facing the stigma of lung cancer. “You must have smoked.” “You must have a terrible life style,” he was told.
The stigma was painful, almost as painful as the surgery that removed half his left lung.
Medicine saved Dave’s life, but that life was forever changed. He left his investment management job and started pursuing health care related opportunities. All of which led to his current podcast, The Research Evangelist.
The Research Evangelist (aka Dave Bjork) interviews leaders in medicine who are
“Brilliant but not famous.”
These are the people in the trenches changing the face of cancer treatments.
“I want people to know there are amazing human beings doing cancer research…
These are the people I interview.”
Lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer of both men and women and it is the least funded of all the cancers. And it is not necessarily associated with smoking. Radon, random chance, genetics and other causes are also at play.
Dave is on a mission to impact people’s lives through education and awareness of the significant progress that is being made in the medical arena. Issues such as health equity and financial toxicity are among his memes. But most of all, The Research Evangelist is about a very caring and human quest for greater knowledge and better treatment for everyone.
Bump In The Road:
The Research Evangelist and The White Ribbon Project
When Dave found out about The White Ribbon Project he was deeply moved. The idea of getting lung cancer out of the closet and highlighting its realities resonated deeply with him.
From The White Ribbon website:
“Years of public health messaging focused solely on risk reduction has created a stigma surrounding lung cancer.
The unintended consequence is the erroneous belief that those living with lung cancer are responsible for their disease, or that those fighting to treat lung cancer are fighting a losing battle.
Incredible progress has been made in this field in the past 15 years and it’s time to make THAT the story about lung cancer.”
The White Ribbon Project opens the door for people to openly talk about lung cancer, and to provide their support. The success in the breast cancer community shows what awareness can do in changing perceptions, opening conversations, and unlocking funding.
In the second part of this podcast, Dave and I explore the power of story, some of his favorite stories, and the impact of research for better health outcomes for all of us.
Dave Bjork: The Need For Research
“The mission is to raise awareness that anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and we want to change the public perception of the disease.”
“For a long time, lung cancer has been a ‘dirty disease’. Whether you smoked or didn’t, it’s been framed that is different than other cancers. I didn’t think that it should be looked at as different.”
“Everything stops. Your life stops.”
“It just kind of changes how you want to interact with the universe and with the people in your life.”
“Why not just be a better person?”
On the white ribbon:” It just captured my imagination. You can show you have lung cancer. There’s no stigma, no shame. It’s ok.”
“I want people to know there are amazing human beings doing cancer research…these are the people I interview.”
“In lung cancer, we should be shouting from the mountain tops, so much has happened in the last 5 years.”
“It’s just good humanity.”