In February of 1998 I got a phone call from my dad. “Mom is in the hospital. They just operated. She has colon cancer.” I was stunned. What!? How can that be? I just talked to mom two days ago and she was fine! Mom had a few bouts of abdominal pain in the past few months. But the pain subsided after a day and it only happened a few times. This time the pain was so bad that dad rushed her to the emergency room; and within hours she was in emergency surgery. The doctor removed a tumor that he said would have burst through her colon in the next 24 hours. In addition to removing the tumor she also had a colostomy. The diagnosis was Stage III colon cancer. Her doctors were amazing, and after many months of chemotherapy mom went back to the hospital to have the colostomy reversed. This month she celebrates her 75th birthday! She is a survivor.
Unfortunately, not everyone survives colon cancer. Kim Hanson, the daughter of a friend, did not survive. Kim was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer in August of 2008. She was 37 years old and known for her ever-present smile and signature “live sassy” slogan. Kim lost her courageous battle on December 31, 2009. While fighting her cancer, Kim spent each chemotherapy session at Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center with a cozy blanket. It was her wish that every cancer patient who is “in the fight for their lives” should have some comfort during it. With that, Comfy for Chemo was born and is dedicated to providing blankets for every active duty military, retiree or dependent receiving chemotherapy.
According to the National Cancer Institute, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. The number of new colorectal cancer cases and the number of deaths from colorectal cancer are decreasing slightly each year. But in adults younger than 50, the number of new colorectal cancer cases has slowly increased since 1998. A look at some of the stories on the Get Your Rear in Gear website will attest to this. I was surprised to see how many young adults in their twenties have colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer is an equal opportunity disease. It strikes both young and old, men and women. I encourage you to get screened if you are over 50, or sooner if you have risk factors. Because of hereditary factors I have already had three screenings. And while its not the most fun way to spend a day, it could very well save your life. (I will tell you that if I could dedicate my donation money it would be to find a better prep method… just saying.) Obviously, this is very personal to me. I would like to invite you to help provide comfort, to educate and to fight this disease. Here are some ways you can join in this fight:
- Visit the Comfy for Chemo website and provide a blanket for a chemotherapy patient.
- If you live in the Kingwood or Atascocita area, Comfy for Chemo will be the Guest Charity on Friday, March 2, at the free Keller Williams Concert at the Harbor. Raffle tickets will be sold from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. There will be some great raffle items including one of my custom fused glass plates. For more information visit the Keller Williams website.
- Also, in honor of my mom and in memory of Kim, my husband Mark and I will be doing our second Get Your Rear in Gear walk. If you would like to support us by contributing to this cause, you can visit my personal page by clicking on this link: Get Your Rear in Gear My Page. Whatever you can give will help – it all adds up!