You won’t find a person as passionate about colon cancer early screening and prevention as Dr. Andrew Albert. Originally from New York, Dr. Albert is a gastroenterologist and the Medical Director of Digestive Health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.
Dr. Albert uses the power of social media to reach not only his own patients, but also others around the world that aren’t able to walk into his office. “People who are fearful or people who don’t have access to medical care, it allows me to spread the message and share the importance of colon cancer screening and educating the community about it in further detail.”
With the power of social media, along with his commitment to engaging with his patients, Dr. Albert is getting tremendous feedback and response from all over. “I’m overwhelmed by the number of people who have a story to share; either personally or about a loved one who lost a fight to colon cancer. I’ve had people reach out to me since these efforts to thank me for the awareness because they never would’ve been screened. We’ve also found colon cancer early in people who otherwise wouldn’t have been screened because of these efforts.”
While studying at George Washington University, doing his internship and residency at Boston Medical Center, and his fellowship at Loyola University Medical Center, Dr. Albert steered his focus to gastroenterology because of the “hands-on specialty of treating a variety of different conditions.” His dedication only grew with the knowledge of family members who were diagnosed with colon cancer. “I have family members who had colon cancer, but until I practiced I never understood how many people were impacted by this awful disease.”
He found his true calling at Advocate Illinois Masonic because of the different communities within Chicago. “I realized that there was a true need for awareness and intervention here in Chicago, and that colon cancer in Chicago has been a very significant public health problem.”
Previous years have been focused on spreading awareness to the underserved in the Chicago communities, but this year Dr. Albert and his colleagues are targeting corporate communities. “This year we’re going out into the corporate community to offer free testing to age-appropriate candidates and to diminish as many barriers as possible.” He said that the majority of people rarely find time to see a doctor or go to church or synagogues, and instead go to work everyday. “What better place to offer free testing, or share the message than where people work and where they can share the message together.” The Colon Cancer Corporate Challenge is now rolling out.
Meeting with patients everyday, he ensures that they are provided with the right tools and information regarding colon cancer, prevention, and screening. Whether it’s the materials he has on hand, or providing online support by directing them to organizations such as Colon Cancer Coalition, he wants everyone to know that colon cancer is preventable and “that everybody needs to be screened.”
Dr. Albert has been involved with Colon Cancer Coalition for three years, collaborating on various projects, which “have resulted in significant synergy in our efforts to increase awareness and testing for those in need.” If you scroll through his Twitter and Instagram feed, you’ll see Dr. Albert actively out in the community handing out free FIT tests to those who are not able to take time off from work to get tested.
Along with his projects with the Coalition, Dr. Albert makes appearances as well. Being one of the speakers at the 2017 Get Your Rear In Gear – Chicago race, he expressed his gratitude for being a participant at the event. This year he’ll be a speaker again at the Chicago race on Saturday, September 8, working on engaging “the entire community in helping to save lives from colon cancer and helping me share their messaging.”
His extensive activities resonate with his passion. Dr. Albert is the co-founder of Fibroblast, a cloud-based management tool that helps patients and doctors with specialty referrals and tracking patients to ensure that they are making their appointments on time. With his drive to bring awareness to the Chicago community, he helped Advocate Illinois Masonic to become the 2017 Grand Prize recipient of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s 80% by 2018 National Achievement Award.
“In order to be successful in preventing colon cancer, we all need to work together to amplify the message, and I encourage all of those amazing colon cancer survivors and their families to join us at Advocate Health Care in spreading the word, whether in the corporate setting or on the streets. We can do this!”
With messages like this, it’s obvious why he continues to stay busy. Dr. Albert was recently recognized by StreetWise as one of the 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans. He will be celebrating at the StreetWise 2018 Gala in late September, along with the other recipients, which include Chance the Rapper and Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo.