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  • Writer's pictureBen Freeberg

Oncology Ventures: 2nd Investment, Cancer Facts and Comedy

This has been quite the month for Oncology Ventures. Go grab your coffee and tell your mom you will call her right back. Or, feel free to read this update to her. My mother loved it.

Quick about us: Oncology Ventures is an early-stage, cancer-focused VC fund. We are investing in data, IT, infrastructure and services start-ups that are making cancer care more affordable, efficient and accessible.


Oncology Ventures Fund Updates

We’re excited to announce our investment into Gabbi. We are thrilled to partner with Kaitlin Christine and her incredible team as they seek to make all late-stage breast cancer obsolete by providing women with the opportunity to understand their risk of developing breast cancer and enabling them to take proactive action for their next steps of care.

Here is more detail on our investment thesis on the current state of early detection for breast cancer in the U.S. Spoilers, and you may be starting to notice a trend here, it needs some work.

We are thrilled to welcome to our team:

Carolyn Starrett, Advisor, is the CEO of Flatiron Health. She is also on the Board of Foundation Medicine.


Oncology Market Facts of the Month

  • 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable. Notably:

- Infections, such as hepatitis and HPV, are responsible for up to 25% of cancer cases in low- and middle-income countries. Vaccines, which are available for hepatitis B virus and some types of HPV, can reduce a person’s risk of liver and cervical cancers, respectively

- Environmental pollution contributes to 4.2M premature deaths per year, of which 6% are lung cancer deaths

  • Each year, more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer, including both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, are linked to indoor tanning in the United States alone

- That’s more than the amount of lung cancer cases due to cigarette smoking

- These subterranean African mammals are rich in a substance called hyaluronan, which acts as a lubricant in the body and stops cancers growing. This discovery could lead to treatments for cancer in the future



Even though I am 5 years cancer free, I still have to go to the hospital all the time for check ups with my oncologist.

Which means that I am currently at a point in my life where once every few months I drive 30 minutes to pay a guy $100 to do a physically intrusive and emotionally exhausting exam. Which is a terrible deal. I can show up to Thanksgiving dinner with the family and get the emotional damage part for free.

I'm still so used to undergoing scans that when I get to TSA at the airport, I lay down on the conveyor belt behind my bags.

Luckily I have health insurance and my bills are paid, but that hasn't stopped hospital debt collectors from calling me 12 times a week. I know no one talks about it, but it feels like our healthcare system is broken.

They always start off the call “hi ben, we're hospital debt collectors. How’re you?”

Wow, I’m so glad you called. I was literally just thinking about you guys. I was just about to give you a ring.

The only people I get actual phone calls from now are hospital debt collectors and spammers.

Have you guys noticed that spammers now use the same area code as you? I get that - instill a little similarity. Maybe I'll think it's my middle school crush finally calling me back.

But now I think they are taking it too far. The spammers probably realized that solely doing the similar area code thing didn't work. There’s no way Ben actually thinks Kylie is going to call him after all these years.

So now, if you’ve noticed, they have been upping the amount of similar digits in their number. So now, my first 6 digits match theirs.

What do they think is going to happen?

Huh, that looks like my phone number. Oh my god… that might be me calling. That might be me calling me. From the future.

What do they even want from you if you do pick up? To do research for this joke I finally answered.

He said “hi, is this ben?”... I said “yes, hi who is this?”...

He was so confused.

He said “I'm sorry sir, we have never gotten this far in the process.”

“Hold on one sec for me…. Appreciate your patience. What is your mother's social security number? Shoot. Sorry. I mean what is your social? Or your mother's maiden name. Ugh, my bad. Let me call you right back.”

So he calls me back. “Alright Ben so what we're going to do today is called identity theft. Super simple. You’re just going to give us some information, we take some of your money, open a few bank accounts - by the way, we use Silicon Valley Bank (too soon?). Shouldn't take more than a few minutes. We’ll have you off the phone to start dealing with the fall out shortly. That all sound okay to you?”

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