I lost both my parents to cancer four weeks apart in 2007. They fought valiently for nine years, but in the end this devastating disease stole them both before they or we were ready. As tragic a loss as this was, their story might have been a much shorter one, had it not been for screenings that identified their cancers and allowed doctors to jump to action.
Those who knew my father I'm sure would agree that he was not a "doctor" guy. I mean, he once drove six hours home in his standard truck from Maine with a leg broken in four places. He was tough, resilient and generally felt that doctors were just as likely to make whatever the ailment was worse as they were to fix it. So I can only imagine his reaction when my recently diagnosed mom directed that he get a coloscopy at the suggestion of her oncologist.
However, whatever his views were on the subject of this screening, he went. During this visit, doctors discovered a progressed cancer that necessitated immediate life-changing measures including several surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. He wouldn't tell anyone his diagnosis at the time, prefering to attribute obvious visual symptoms to Lyme disease (a misdirection that tickled him) thus avoiding having any lengthy discussions about it. He continued to work and carefully maintained his new normal in the belief that this too would pass.
As the years multiplied, it became more and more clear that his cancer was not going away. He finally told his family and began telling everyone who would listen that early detection was the key. He firmly believed that had his cancer been found before it had grown, his story would have been different. He urged friends and co-workers to get coloscopies to avoid his fate.
When I decided to run the New York City Marathon and started researching associated charities, the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation immediately connected with me. The mission of CCCF includes raising public awareness about genetic risk factors and the importance of annual screening and prevention, a goal that extends my dad's efforts. They raise and disburse funds to programs that provide screening services for uninsured clients and assist them in obtaining services and support to maximize their ability to overcome cancer. And finally, they provide financial support to individuals and organizations that are leading innovative research programs for the prevention and cure of colorectal cancer.
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