Staff

Meet the patients and caregivers bringing connection, education, and training to their COLONTOWN neighbors!

COLONTOWN Community Management

Lindsey Musick

COLONTOWN Mayor

I am a single mom of 3 beautiful babies and I have stage IV colon cancer.
I was initially overwhelmed by my diagnosis and realized that I needed to learn everything I could about this cancer and how to survive. I discovered COLONTOWN, where I met young parents just like me juggling family and a devastating diagnosis.
In COLONTOWN, I found cutting edge medical information, resources on every aspect of life with cancer, and forever friends. COLONTOWN gave me the tools to extend my life.
I am thrilled to be a part of the leadership team of this groundbreaking and original community seeking to save and improve the lives of cancer patients.

Kim Austin

Kim Austin

COLONTOWN Deputy Mayor, Community Leader, Onboarding Team

I am a Stage IV colorectal cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2013.
I serve on the COLONTOWN Cabinet as a Deputy Mayor, am the Community Leader for our BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL COMMUNITY and am also a Neighborhood Host for numerous groups. I have attended and helped present at all of PALTOWN’s Empowered Patient Leader Workshops.
COLONTOWN has given me a voice and a purpose that I never dreamed possible. Helping others “Find their people” is a passion.

Diane Bendtsen

Diane Bendtsen

COLONTOWN Deputy Mayor, Onboarding Team Lead

I was diagnosed in March of 2012 with Stage IV right sided colon cancer. Unfortunately, even though I was MSI-high, it was before the immunotherapies were being used. I underwent 14 months of chemo and 8 weeks of radiation and was lucky enough to be declared NED.
The time I have had dancing with NED has been spent trying to advocate and help others. COLONTOWN has given me the best outlet for my advocacy. I have taken a leadership role and have also helped train others. I onboard new members daily and the number of our members keeps growing even though we are continually losing our friends. COLONTOWN has given me the purpose to continue and work towards the day when COLONTOWN is no longer needed.

Joe Bullock

Community Manager for COLONTOWN Jr, Onboarding Team

In August of 2018, a couple of months after being diagnosed with stage 3b colorectal cancer, I started to reach out online to get additional support with my cancer diagnosis. I joined COLONTOWN and gained support from many of its groups.
In early 2021, I had been NED (No Evidence of Disease) for a few months and wanted to find a way to give back to a community that had given so much to me.
I completed the Empowered Patient Leader Training, and am now serving as Community Manager for COLONTOWN Junior, serving the families of pediatric colorectal cancer patients. I look forward to continuing to support COLONTOWN and its members in the future.

Julie Clauer

COLONTOWN Deputy Mayor, Education Team Lead

I am living with a chronic disease known as Stage IV colorectal cancer.
I am one of the growing many of early onset patients with no family history or typical risk factors trying to figure out how to juggle treatment, raise a toddler, and shift just about everything to coexist with cancer.
I passionately believe that knowledge and compassion help increase positive outcomes for those with cancer in their lives. COLONTOWN provides both of these in such a unique way and I am thrilled to participate in and further that mission.

Betsy Post

COLONTOWN Deputy Mayor, Community Leader

I came to COLONTOWN as primary caregiver for my sister, Pam, who was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 2016. She endured numerous chemotherapies, surgeries, procedures, and hospital stays with a smile on her face and with a world-famous thumbs up.
COLONTOWN became Pam’s family. She loved meeting fellow patients and caregivers, both online and in person, and they certainly loved her. Sadly, Pam succumbed to her illness in December 2018.
COLONTOWN became as important to me as it was to Pam in the years I spent researching treatment options and connecting with other caregivers. I became the host for our liver metastases group, and then Community Leader for all the neighborhoods providing resources for metastases.
I am excited to serve the community as Deputy Mayor for Caregivers.

Jason Randall

COLONTOWN Deputy Mayor

I am a Stage 4a colorectal cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2018 at the age of 35 and this news sent my life into a tailspin. My wife and I understand the emotional, mental, and physical stress that comes with a terminal cancer diagnosis and found COLONTOWN about 6 months after being diagnosed, with both of us joining various neighborhoods within the community.
This turned out to be a game changer for me as I found a recommendation in COLONTOWN for a CRC liver surgeon. This led me to get a 2nd opinion with this doctor, and eventually, surgery. It changed my life.
I want to help others after finding my own voice after my cancer experiences and taking charge of my health. It has lit a fire in me that I have never felt before and I want to help others.
I am honored to be a part of COLONTOWN and to be able to help.

Education Team

Dr. Manju George

Scientific Director

I am a Stage 3b rectal cancer survivor.
Immediately after my diagnosis in 2017, I joined COLONTOWN. By training, I am a DVM PhD, with post-doctoral training and research experience in Cell and Cancer Biology. I use this background to educate fellow patients and caregivers.
In COLONTOWN, I created the CRC101 educational neighborhood, which is a landing space for all new members. Here, I distill highly technical CRC-relevant information to easily-understandable nuggets. CRC101 attempts to provide people a “road-map” to their cancer journey.
I serve as a Patient Advocate with the Stand Up to Cancer CRC Dream Team, attend many CRC conferences, and am active on Twitter (@manjuggm). This enables me to engage in discussions with leading clinicians and researchers in the CRC field and bring that information back to COLONTOWN.
As Scientific Director, I host many of our DocTalk Zoom conversations, and oversee content development for COLONTOWN University.
I continue to look for opportunities where my training, cancer experience and collective patient perspective gained from COLONTOWN can be used for the benefit of society.

Anne Nesathurai

Anne Nesathurai

Managing Editor, Digital Content

I am a science communicator and editor. I started my career in genetics education, as the managing editor for an education nonprofit.
I am passionate about translating confusing topics so that everyone can understand them. I have a B.A. in English from Vassar College. I’m excited to lead COLONTOWN University's content development team and manage digital content for the organization.

Adrian Terek

Adrian Terek

Clinical Trials Curator

I became involved in patient advocacy when my mother was diagnosed with incurable cervical cancer in 2012. Her doctor offered her very few options, so I undertook a deep dive into the world of cancer research, as well as corresponded with top researchers around the world about the latest developments.
My research led me to a promising clinical trial that gave my mother valuable additional years. This experience led me to found LifeTrials, a charity focused on informing patients of the latest research advances and clinical trials. My goal is to ensure patients are getting the best treatments and that all available options are considered based on the latest evidence.
When a close friend was diagnosed with CRC I joined COLONTOWN. I was blown away at how wildly supportive and knowledgeable the group was.
As Trials Curator, I research and inform the COLONTOWN community of valuable clinical trial options, providing easy-to-understand explanations of the latest research advances and topics at the forefront of CRC treatment research.

Jennifer Eldridge

Jennifer Eldridge

Content Development Team

In July 2020, at the age of 40, I was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer. Shortly after diagnosis, I received the devastating news that the disease had spread to my liver, lungs and throughout my lymph nodes.
When I joined COLONTOWN, I was immediately accepted into an amazing, supportive and educational community, which taught me so much about my disease and how to advocate for myself as a patient.
The information that I gained from COLONTOWN led my family to an international move, a change in oncologist a new chemotherapy regime, and surgery to remove my primary tumor and liver mets.
Before my diagnosis, I worked for 15 years as an elementary school teacher all over the world. I hold a BA in Psychology and Spanish Literature from Smith College and a Master’s in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College.
Through COLONTOWN, I have found so much hope and support and gained the tools to advocate for myself and search out the best treatment options. I am so excited to join the team and help bring the same sense of hope and empowerment to others who are in a similar position.

Steve Schwarze

Steve Schwarze

Clinical Trials Education Advisor

I am a Stage IV colorectal cancer patient (MSS, BRAF-mutated).
I attended a workshop in October 2018 to become an “Empowered Patient Leader” in COLONTOWN. I helped build and lead our nine neighborhoods that are focused on clinical trials. We have 2000+ in our MSS TRIALS neighborhood, and smaller numbers in others (MSI, RAS, BRAF, HER2+, CHEK2, Anal, CAR-T, and NIH). In this role I oversee discussions about clinical trials and treatment options, and act as a liaison between members and several top CRC oncologists to help answer patients’ questions.
In the spring of 2020, I worked to facilitate the transition of COLONTOWN to a member-led model as PALTOWN expands. I am now provide guidance for our expanding portfolio of education, training, and conversation around clinical trials.
I also lead PALTOWN’s Clinical Trials Navigator program, which trains community members to help fellow patients learn about clinical trials and navigate the process of making decisions and enrolling in those trials.
My day job is Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Climate Change Studies Program at The University of Montana in Missoula, MT.

Amy True

Content Development Team

I have been married 27 years to my high school sweetheart Jeff. My husband’s Stage IV rectal cancer diagnosis at the age of 44 in 2017 rocked our world! As a childhood cancer survivor, researcher, and fixer, I went to work on learning as much as I possibly could and developing a plan to fight this. Our strategy is that I am the researcher, the advocate and the plan developer and my husband just says, “I’ll do whatever you tell me” (he’s a smart guy!). This works for us, and he can focus on his attitude and his health.
I found COLONTOWN on Facebook in 2019 after a devastating recurrence with peritoneal metastasis, lymph node metastasis and liver metastasis following 15 months of NED. COLONTOWN has become our go-to source of information, new family and friends who understand this world like no other, and resources that have helped us develop an amazing treatment plan. I am thrilled to join the team to help support patients and caretakers through content development on COLONTOWN University.

Empowered Patient Leaders Team

Amy Basner

Amy Basner

Community Leader, EPL Faculty

I joined COLONTOWN because I was looking for support for myself and my husband, who had been diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer. I have enjoyed getting to meet everyone in COLONTOWN and especially liked attending my first Empowered Patient Leader Workshop.
I am now part of the team that manages this training program. I also serve as the Community Leader for our Spiritual Enclave.
I have a huge passion for helping people. My family will tell you I love to meet people and talk to them. I look forward getting to know more people and helping out as I can.

Jenn Bass

Jenn Bass

Community Leader, EPL Faculty

I was diagnosed with stage lllb colon cancer in May 2019. I was 36 and didn’t know of anyone my age with this diagnosis. I had no family history and nothing genetic to explain why this happened to me.
While in the hospital, I started searching for information and support groups. I came across COLONTOWN and joined. I instantly made connections with not only people that had young onset colorectal cancer, but local “townies” that quickly became some of my closest friends. I didn’t feel alone and felt supported throughout my diagnosis and treatment.
After I finished chemo, I knew I wanted to give back. I did the first virtual Empowered Patient Leader training in July 2020. Soon after, I became the admin for 3RD LANE, then TOUGH CHICKS and NED BALLROOM. I also help moderate the Cleveland crew and help the fundraising team. After a year, I was asked to become an EPL Trainer. And now I am happy to be a Community Leader for the PATIENT PLAZA groups! All of this has been incredibly healing and helped give me my “why.”

Tracey Dedering

Tracey Dedering

EPL Faculty

I was diagnosed with stage iv colon cancer with extensive mets to my liver in July 2014. I was 40 and a mom of a 6 year old. I had no family history and nothing genetic to explain why this happened to me. After my diagnosis I was looking for help, answers, support, anything because I had no one to turn to who could understand what was happening to our family. I googled colon cancer, bad idea. I searched Facebook and found COLONTOWN.
I completed 3 rounds of xelox and had a failed liver resection. My surgeon decided PVE was our best bet. After that recovery, we had a successful 70% resection of liver and 2 months later colon resection. Then I restarted chemo. I officially finished chemo in November, 2015 and have been considered NED ever since.
I volunteered with COLONTOWN to start a Wisconsin neighborhood; I have been the admin in Badgerburgh ever since.
After completing my EPL session, I was asked to become a trainer. I love my COLONTOWN family for everything they have been able to provide me through our journey, so now as an EPL trainer I am able to give some of that back to others.

Organization Staff

COLONTOWN is supported and managed by PALTOWN, a nonprofit dedicated to community and patient empowerment.

Our wonderful staff – almost all patients and caregivers themselves – keep the lights on, the wheels turning, and do all the innumerable tasks of running a small nonprofit. Please consider helping us!