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Chuck Stravin: “With Time Comes Hope”

Chuck Stravin is married to his high school sweetheart, Liz, and lives in Quincy, Massachusetts, just south of Boston. Diagnosed with advanced renal cancer in 2015, Chuck is beating the odds and has become a passionate advocate for kidney cancer research funding.   

For this month’s Community Spotlight, we are sharing the story of our friend Chuck, who was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer in 2015. Chuck reflects on time and hope, as well as the critical need for continued research. 

Boston Fan and #GIRLDAD

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I am a 55-year-old father to four amazing daughters. We live just south of Boston, and I am an avid Boston sports fan, especially Boston College. I bleed maroon and gold!

I was diagnosed in 2015 with advanced renal cancer, and I want the next father of four who is diagnosed with RCC to have more options than I did back then.

Chuck Stravin - KIdneyCAN Community Spotlight

For Chuck, a proud #GIRLDAD, more time means the opportunity to walk his daughters down the aisle. This photo is from his oldest daughter Kayla’s wedding in 2022.

Reflecting on Time & Hope

What do new kidney cancer trials and treatments mean for you?

As someone who is living with stage IV renal cell cancer, I can say that clinical trials and research are very critical.

You see, I have exhausted ALL standard of care therapies. My only hope in keeping my aggressive form of RCC under control comes from new discoveries that drive new treatment options. These new treatment options provide patients like me with added time.

This time means a lot to us. It’s time other patients haven’t had to continue to watch their children grow up. Time to celebrate more anniversaries with their spouses. Time to add to their personal bucket list. Or in the case of this #GIRLDAD, time to walk another daughter down the aisle.

I want clinicians and researchers to know this: A cancer diagnosis changes your life. Your life is never the same, but with time comes hope that we will someday find a cure. And hope that, for patients like me, the next clinical trial is the one that keeps the cancer under control with fewer side effects and a better quality of life.

Sometimes, time and hope are all we have.

Chuck Stravin - KidneyCAN Community Spotlight
Chuck has become a vocal and active supporter of initiatives to fund kidney cancer research and educate patients. He advocates for federal research funding with KidneyCAN, and he is active with The Jimmy Fund, a Boston-area organization that supports Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s mission to provide groundbreaking cancer care to children and adults.

Deb Beyhan - KidneyCAN Legislative Patient Advocate
Chuck is often invited to speak at patient education and advocacy events, where he shares his story with other patients, as well as doctors and researchers. He says, “I want to speak for the kidney cancer patients who have gone before us and for the current patients who can’t speak for themselves.”

“We Need to Do More to Understand This Horrible Disease”

You’ve been a vocal advocate for federal research funding for kidney cancer. What made you decide to get involved in advocacy?

It scares me to think that when my fight started, there were ZERO federal dollars going to kidney cancer. There are 200+ types of cancer out there, but kidney cancer is a particularly complicated cancer.

Despite being a top-ten cancer (#6 in men, #9 in women), and being one of the most rapidly-increasing cancers in adults between 25 and 50 years of age, it is still one of the least understood cancers out there.  That has to change, and the only way we do that is through research.

Kidney cancer kills 40 people like me per day in the United States. Worldwide, there are close to 450,000 new cases each year.  We need to do more to understand this horrible disease.

Chuck Stravin - KidneyCAN Community Spotlight

Chuck says, “My incredible wife and four amazing daughters keep me going. They have been right there by my side the last 7+ years and have shown me that I have a lot to live for.” Chuck is shown here with his wife, Liz, and his daughters Kayla, MaryBeth, Colleen and Meghan, along with their golden doodle Quinn.

Advice for New Patients with Kidney Cancer

What would you share with someone who is newly diagnosed with kidney cancer?  

Find a cancer center that specializes in kidney cancer. Like I said above, kidney cancer is complicated. You want to be working with a team that not only provides incredible patient care, but one that also understands this crazy disease and has access to cutting-edge research and life-saving clinical trials.

Staying “Stravin Strong”

What keeps you motivated on hard days?  

The night that I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, I came up with a list of things that cancer was NOT going to get in the way of.  This list remains my “North Star” or “compass” in this fight.

Trust me, there are plenty of good days and there are quite a few bad days, but I have a lot to live for. Liz, Kayla, MaryBeth, Colleen, and Meghan remind me of that every day. That’s why we call it “Stravin Strong.”

Cancer started this fight, but we’re going to finish it.

We at KidneyCAN sincerely thank Chuck for sharing his story and offering insights to our community of patients, caregivers, doctors, and researchers. Thank you for your advocacy and for all you do to speak for the kidney cancer community!

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