More than 25 years ago I was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and told I had at most two years to live. At 19, I began my first of many grueling treatments in what became, ultimately, a 23-year fight for my life.

It was the kind of fight not many people win. However, I had an unexpected and, at the time, nearly unimaginable source of help. By sheer luck of being at the right place at the right time, I had the opportunity to be a “prototype patient” for what we now know as precision medicine.

A chance discovery

By analyzing my DNA from blood and tissue samples, my doctors discovered that my kidney cancer acted more like pancreatic cancer. That meant the treatments they had been trying weren’t likely to work, and more importantly, that a different course of treatment might work better. My lucky encounter with personalized, precision medicine is why I’m here and cancer-free today. And I’ve made it my personal mission to figure out how to bring it to everyone else.

“Together, we’re working to create collaborative research programs with the American people.”

A greater mission

But it’s not just my personal mission. It’s also the mission of hundreds of medical researchers, technology innovators and other health advocates across the country. Together, we’re working to create collaborative research programs with the American people.

The future of precision medicine will be founded on creating a community of millions of people from across the U.S. who can volunteer to share information about their health, lifestyle and environment. With this information researchers can uncover answers about who is at risk for which diseases and how best to prevent and treat them. Our goal is to collect more data than we’ve ever had so that we can make continue making breakthrough medical treatments.

A team effort

I know firsthand the power of personalized, precision medicine and I’m proud to have seen the tremendous progress we have already made. However, this sort of advancement can’t be made by clinicians and researchers alone, it’s going to take all of us. Now is the time to get involved and help shape the future of health.