Reflecting that it has taken him 25 years to be able to speak about his cancer experience-he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at the age of 6 months-Jasan Zimmerman says he is eager to try to "make up for lost time" by becoming as active as he can in cancer advocacy. This explains why he is a Super Advocate with National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), on the Board of Advisors for Yoga Bear, and on the Board of Directors for The Wellness Community-Silicon Valley (TWC-SV).
As a Super Advocate with NCCS, Jasan promotes grassroots advocacy, sharing information about legislation, survivorship, and NCCS programs. The organization advocates for quality cancer care for all Americans and for empowering cancer survivors. Yoga Bear is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing cancer survivors with opportunities for wellness and healing through the practice of yoga. Jasan plays an active role contributing survivor input to their programs and spreading the word about Yoga Bear and the role of yoga in survivorship. For TWC-SV, Jasan offers survivor input, raises funds, and raises awareness about the importance of psychosocial support for cancer patients and survivors.
Jasan learned about the PRMRP via his work with NCCS. Super Advocates received an email from their group leader describing an opportunity to become involved in the peer review of proposals submitted to the PRMRP. After being nominated by the NCCS, Jasan was invited to participate as a consumer reviewer. He describes his experience in this role as "amazing," saying, "As a scientist, it was great for me to learn about the new research into neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers. As a survivor, I was very happy to help provide a face to the patient population for the scientists participating on the panels. Being able to contribute as a survivor in some small way to cutting-edge research was a great experience for me."
Reviewing proposals for the PRMRP, Jasan developed an appreciation for the research community's dedication to better understanding neuroblastoma and developing better options for diagnosis and treatments. Observing his fellow reviewers at work, he saw scientists whose careers were devoted to fighting neuroblastoma and other diseases, and consumers whose contributions as survivors were received with gratitude and respect. Jasan received a warm welcome from the scientific reviewers. He notes, "Consumer advocates should continue their work with the knowledge that we are not only affected by the work of the scientists, but that we affect their work, too."