Why am I Especially Thankful This Year?

This year has been, um, challenging for all of us. I know there’s a good chance that you have a more colorful word to describe 2020. So, given how tough the year has been, why am I especially thankful this year?

Quite simply, I’m grateful to still be alive. I’m not just talking about avoiding COVID-19. You see, it’s almost seven years since I was diagnosed with an exceedingly rare, deadly form of cancer, Appendiceal Carcinoma with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP). If it wasn’t for brilliant medical intervention, my last Thanksgiving would have been in 2014.

Because a number of people have been asking me how my health is, and because some people with PMP are seeking insights on the Internet, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide an update. In addition, I want to share some news that has implications for your fundraising efforts.

Since 2014, I’ve had two massive, 14-hour surgeries with each followed a short time later by an additional two-hour surgery. I’ve also undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments to slow the progression of the cancer. Furthermore, I’ve been receiving mistletoe extract injections to mitigate chemo side effects and, perhaps, enhance the effectiveness of the chemo. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PMP. The best I can hope for is to slow the disease and delay the need for the next huge surgery. Not only will that enhance my quality of life, it will extend my life because there is a limit to the surgical option.

Last week, I received my latest CT Scan result. That report, along with my recent blood test results, reveals that my cancer is stable! That means I’m able to take a break from chemo for two to three months, beginning just in time for Thanksgiving.

Thanks to an army of doctors and nurses, especially those at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania – Penn Medicine, I’m still here. I also need to mention that Lisa, my wife, is a critical part of my care team. I couldn’t have made this journey over the past seven years without her. Every time I look at her, I’m reminded that, despite everything I’ve been through, I’m still the luckiest guy on Earth.

My adventure hasn’t been easy. At times, it’s been absolutely brutal. On a daily basis, it’s a struggle. But, with a great medical team and the support of family, friends, colleagues, and clients, I continue to move forward. There’s too much to do for me to start wallowing now.

Recently, I received some additional good news. UPMC is expecting to receive approval soon for a clinical trial of a minimally invasive treatment that would further delay the need for another big surgery. I’m a candidate for this. The treatment has already shown promise in Australia-based testing. If all goes according to plan, the treatment will enhance the quality of my life while extending it.

This brings me to your fundraising program.

While testing is essential in a medical context, it is also important when it comes to fundraising. And, as in the medical world, testing in the fundraising world can enhance and save lives.

Think about it.

When you send a direct-mail appeal, there are any number of things you can test. For example, you can test teaser copy on the outer envelope. (Teaser copy is text on the outer envelope that encourages action, usually the opening of the envelope.) To test teaser copy, you can divide your prospect pool in thirds. Group A would be your control with no teaser copy. Group B might say, “Your support is needed now.” Group C might say, “You can save a life.” Then, you’ll track the results to see which group generates the greatest response rate, average gift, and total revenue. The results can then guide you as you prepare future appeals that will raise more money because you put in the effort to test.

By raising more money, your organization will be better able to fulfill its mission. That likely means enhancing the quality of lives, saving lives, or both.

Every fundraising appeal offers almost limitless opportunities for testing. If you’re not constantly testing something, you’re missing a wonderful opportunity to enhance your fundraising results. Testing is a powerful tool in the healthcare environment. It’s also a powerful tool in the fundraising world.

If you’ve recently run an interesting test or if you plan to do so, please let me know. I would love to share your successful-testing story so others can learn from your insights.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. While this has been a tough year, we all have something(s) we can be thankful for. Hang on to those thoughts. For good nerdy fun, click here to read about seven Thanksgiving myths that I’ve busted.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

20 Comments to “Why am I Especially Thankful This Year?”

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Michael. Godspeed.

  2. That’s great news, Michael! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Erica

  3. Michael, thank you for sharing. Great to hear the uplifting news. Blessings to you and your sweet bride. Prayers for your continued health battle. Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

  4. Glad you’re doing well. Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. I say, “Refuah shleimah”! Even though that depends on testing.

  6. So happy to hear this news, Michael!!!!

  7. So happy to hear this Michael. You absolutely deserve a break! We in the nonprofit world are all grateful for YOU.

  8. Thank you Michael for sharing the update of your health. Your writing gives encouragement and hope for all who are facing health challenges. I am thankful for your writing, your insight and the caring you provide for all of us. Happy Holidays!

  9. Michael, this is such encouraging news; yours and Lisa’s optimism and grit are in large part why you have endured and can be with us today. Blessings to you.

  10. Happy to hear your good news (both scan result and possibility of a clinical trial). Also glad to hear your optimism and gratitude. The world needs more of both. Happy holidays.

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