Nathan Shatsoff was a healthy, athletic college student who was enjoying life. He got a bad cold and cracked a rib from coughing. He became concerned when the ache in his side didn’t go away, and went to a local doctor for a check up. Nathan, his doctor, and his entire family were beyond shocked when he was diagnosed at the age of 21 with stage IV colon cancer. He described the diagnosis as being very lonely, as this disease is mostly reserved for people much later in life. Two years after his diagnosis, Nathan is approaching his 50th treatment with chemotherapy. Nathan has the most advanced case of colon cancer any doctor he has been to has seen in such a young person. However, his prognosis and treatments have not stopped him from fighting against cancer for himself, his family, and future patients.
Nathan’s diagnosis led his family to delve into their family’s history and they learned of an extensive history of colon cancer and pre-cancerous colon polyps at young ages. This led to the realization that this pattern was likely hereditary. Nathan’s sister contacted Ellen Matloff, MS, Director of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at Yale Cancer Center and set up a meeting to discuss this possibility. Ms. Matloff has collected DNA samples from multiple generations of the family and Dr. Allen Bale, Professor of Genetics, is analyzing these samples with the latest technologies in search of the mutation causing these cancers.
Nathan is also hard at work. With the support of his family, Nathan founded the organization RELENTLESS Against Cancer, a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money to donate to specific hospitals and practices working to develop new treatments as well as early detection methods.
“The fight against cancer is something that must be renewed each and every day,” said Nathan. “Every day you wake up is a chance to make a difference. While the ultimate goal cannot be accomplished in one day, every day we are closer to making it a reality. Our efforts must be tireless, they must be RELENTLESS, and this is the reason I started this organization, for my family and future patients.”
Recently, Nathan donated the proceeds from a fundraiser to The Hope Chest fund at Yale Cancer Center. The Hope Chest fund was created to ensure that genetic counseling, and the hope of early detection, risk reduction, prevention, and cutting-edge research, will be passed on to the next generation. Nathan and his family hope to make people understand that not everyone diagnosed with cancer will either undergo surgery or a few months of treatment and either be cured or pass away from the disease.
“My ultimate goal is to help in any way I can with cancer research so one day no one will ever have to endure what I have,” Nathan said.
To learn more about RELENTLESS Against Cancer, or to find out how you can donate, please visit www.relentlessagainstcancer.com