I am asking for your generosity to help end colorectal cancer. Please, will you support me in my efforts as an AmBASHador with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Luckily for me early on in my treatment, I found Colorectal Cancer Alliance. The guidance and support I received through this organization were my greatest resource. In the seventeen years since I was first diagnosed, I have seen great strides in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer and yet still 1 in 23 people will be diagnosed with this cancer.
My association with Colorectal Cancer Alliance began in November 2002. Shortly after cancer surgery I began adjuvant chemotherapy. Living in a small community, I quickly realized any support I would receive would have to come from online services. This is when I found Colorectal Cancer Alliance. They matched me with a “Buddy”, Ann. This was a survivor who had a similar experience, who was available to guide me through this process. We had a wonderful discussion where we talked about my issues and concerns. I will never forget we ended the conversation with Ann telling me “Come out of your comfort zone and talk about this embarrassing cancer.” I knew then it was important for me to honor her request. March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. In March of 2004, I did a presentation at an elementary school and also a news article for our local newspaper. I felt I had done as Ann had asked. It was my plan that any future discussions would be more private. Just me encouraging family and friends to be screened. My first goal at that time was to convince my siblings. Early on I had been advised all close relatives should be screened. Unfortunately, my request was not heeded.
In September 2004 I received a phone call from my niece. My sister, Faye, was hospitalized with unexplained vomiting. Her CAT scan was inclusive because of fluid in her abdomen and further test were required. I knew immediately it was colon cancer and I knew it was bad. The next day my worse fear was confirmed. Faye’s first words to me were “That test was nothing, I should have been screened.” At the time of her surgery the cancer was deemed inoperable and her prognosis was poor. Within 75 days I lose my sister to this insidious disease.
Now my role as a patient advocate had changed. I knew I had two stories to share. Mine was a story of what can happen. I was someone who had symptoms, got diagnosed in a reasonable time and had successful treatment. Her story is one of what often does happen. By the time she presented symptoms the cancer was too advanced for a successful outcome. I like to remind people who complain about the prep for a colonoscopy what my sister said “That test was nothing, I should have been screened.”
Colorectal Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer related death but it’s 90% preventable. The mission of Colorectal Cancer Alliance is to end Colorectal Cancer. Their three pillars are SCREEN CARE CURE. Donate to my AmBASHador fundraiser, and you can give others like me more tomorrows.