Q&A: Kim Newcomer, Navigator and Manager of Never Too Young

Colorectal cancer doesn’t stop for COVID-19. We know this, and the Alliance remains dedicated to the mission of ending colorectal cancer in our lifetime. 

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t made a few organizational changes, with the health and well-being of staff in mind. Today, we are all working from home and discovering, just as you are, what this post-COVID-19 reality is all about.

In this staff interview, we chat with Kim Newcomer, Manager of the Never Too Young Program and Certified Patient & Family Support Navigator, about work and life since the coronavirus pandemic.

How did you come to the Alliance?

I was diagnosed with stage-IV rectal cancer at 35, and I’m now seven-years NED. I met Alliance staff members Nancy and Jeannie at a conference in Washington, DC, and I started volunteering. I loved the community and the support they provided, and I just could not stop. The Alliance hired me ​in ​September 2017. It’s the best job EVER!

What do you do?

I’m on the community engagement team! I’m the manager of the Never Too Young Program and Never Too Young Advisory Board. Never Too Young raises awareness locally and nationally for young-onset colorectal cancer. I also manage Arizona, Rhode Island, and Houston state allies. These allies bring our mission to screen, care, and cure to their local communities.

Why is being a colorectal cancer survivor yourself beneficial in this role? 

When I was going through my treatment, I did not know about the Alliance. I walked through my treatment and surgeries blindly, not asking too many questions. As a result,​ I suffer from many side effects, including infertility and sexual morbidity. I promised myself that if I made it through, I would help empower patients and survivors to ask questions and be their own best health advocate. I use my story and encourage others to use their story to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of early detections and screening for CRC.

How are you holding up during the COVID-19 crisis?

I’m going through waves—happy one minute, sad the next. I’m loving the Ally Social Hour we have every Friday​ night​. It gives me a chance to see everyone and make the connections with our allies that we all miss since we’ve been quarantined. I’m keeping busy with a new puppy, Archie. He is so sweet, but a lot of work. 

You’ve long worked remote, from Arizona. What advice do you have for those of who are just getting into it? 

I love working from home, I make sure to keep a schedule which includes a 3-mile hike every morning with my husband and dogs. I tend to get lost in my work, so I make sure to set a timer to get up every 2 hours for a quick break and grab a healthy snack. At night I work out, I’m totally obsessed with the  Orange theory at-home workout.

How are you passing the time gained through physical distancing?

Hiking by the canal, reading, working and eating! I feel like I’ve gained 10lbs from stress and eating everything in sight.

Some random questions now. Who was your favorite childhood book?

I fell in love with reading when I was 12  after reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I loved that she’s all about women and trying to empower women. All the women in her books know what they want and they are given the power to go out and get it.

If you could travel in a time machine, to what time period would you go?

Ancient Rome would be pretty spectacular.  Just imagine walking around with marble all over the place and fountains, and its monumental architecture such as the Colosseum, Trajan's Forum, and the Pantheon. Then, I’d drink some wine and maybe have a little more wine.

Where’s your favorite place to visit? 

That is a hard question! My husband and I travel as much as we can. I would say my favorite place is Ireland, for me, it created an immediate sense of calm. Everyone is relaxed, it is easy to step into another world, away from the busyness of everyday life to appreciate each moment. I enjoyed the beer too!

What do you enjoy about working at the Alliance? 

I am so happy to be able to work with a brilliant Community Engagement team who understands the importance of empowering our allies by connecting with our community.  Our allies have powerful voices and we are able to provide support, training and the right tools for the right time to raise awareness, and end this disease in our lifetime.


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