The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) encourages our members to be hopeful and as educated as possible about colon cancer. You may find practical tips and inspiration in fellow patient, survivor, and caregiver personal stories. Share your story!
Never Too Young: Robert Stephen Gilmore
“My son is now 16 years old and faced his second malignancy last year. At three years old, he was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma (brain cancer). He underwent chemo and radiation and after 12 years of survivorship, he was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer last summer – rare in children.” - Wendy Gilmore Baskins, Robert’s Mother
Buddy Spotlight: Valerie Freeman
“I am so blessed to have been the lifeline, the caregiver to three of the most precious people in my life. I was given this chance, this opportunity, this gift from God, to be the one who made the difference in their lives, and in two cases, in their returns home. This wasn't a burden, this was a blessing, and I think I can say I did well.” – Valerie
We’re thrilled to have Oscar-nominated and award-winning actor Terrence Howard join us for a new and powerful public service campaign to raise awareness and encourage colon cancer screening. Terrence became an advocate after his mother passed away from colon cancer in 2008.
Hero of the Month: Randy Cox & Debbie Whitmore
Randy Cox and Debbie Whitmore are both stage IV colon cancer survivors. In March, the duo shared their stories at an event at Boston Scientific, a global medical device company dedicated to generating awareness about the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. At the event, Randy and Debbie spoke very openly about their diagnoses and struggles with this disease. Employees at Boston Scientific were so inspired by their stories that the company became the founding partner of our soon-to-debut Screening Assistance Program.
Yolanda Austin: Honoring Through Activism
Yolanda Austin and Bonita Scott met at a St. Louis, Missouri church more than 30 years ago. Despite their differences in personality, Yolanda lively and outgoing and Bonita shy and reserved, the two immediately hit it off. And for 30 years, the duo remained best girlfriends, leaning on one another through the thick and thin, sharing laughs and tears. When Bonita was dealt a stage IV diagnosis at just 41 years old, Yolanda stepped up, never missing a beat. Nearly four years later, Yolanda’s overwhelming and inspirational dedication to spreading awareness fills a void left by her best girlfriend’s passing.
Leave it on the Road
In June, we honor Mike Tabtabai and Drew Hudon as our Heroes of the Month. On June 17th, Mike and Drew set out on Leave it on the Road, a 3,500 bike ride across the country. In 24 days, they journey from Oregon to Massachusetts, raising money and awareness for the Colon Cancer Alliance and Colon Club along the way. We sat down with Mike and Drew before their ride to hear what inspired them to get involved and how their cause is gaining momentum.
The Russo Family: Attitude is Everything
Nikki and Phil Russo met in a New York City café. The two creative minds immediately connected – Phil on his way to becoming the VP - Global Creative Director for the international fashion label Cole Haan and Nikki a fashion editor in the Big Apple. The young family was on page one of their life story – new jobs, new home, new baby. It was an overwhelmingly joyous time, until they received a devastating diagnosis. Even through this adversity, their positivity and support for one another have never wavered.
Craig Campbell: Singing for Awareness
American country music artist Craig Campbell joined us in March for our Stars Go Blue Benefit Concert, opening for country music legend Alan Jackson. We were thrilled to have him as part of this inspirational event, and touched at how candidly he talked about losing his father to colon cancer at the young age of 11, emphasizing the importance of screening and family history. Here’s a little more about Craig’s story, in his words.
Todd Setter: The Value of Responsibility
Todd Setter, the CCA’s National Director of the Undy 5000 5k Run/Walk, lost his father to colon cancer. As a teenager, his dad taught him an important lesson he’s kept with him through his entire life. Now, he’s using that lesson to help spread awareness of colon cancer and hopefully, save some lives.
Mal was a 40-year vegetarian with impeccable health and no family history of colon cancer. Because of this, Mal justified putting off that recommended screening colonoscopy after turning 50, but soon after realized this was a near-deadly mistake.
Eartha Kitt was an internationally renowned star and performer who distinguished herself in film, theater, cabaret, music and on television. Eartha was diagnosed at age 80 with stage III colon cancer. She passed away in 2008, but not without a fight. Passionate about carrying on her mother’s voice, Kitt Shapiro, Eartha’s daughter, has partnered with the Colon Cancer Alliance to share her mother’s story and raise awareness.
After Tess’s mom’s colon cancer diagnosis in 2011, she turned to the CCA because she wanted to help keep other families from experiencing what hers was going through. We’re honoring Tess as our May Hero of the Month because she took her own tragedy and turned it into something positive and motivating – helping save lives. And there’s nothing more heroic than that.
Laura Morefield was bright and witty. She was a loving wife, daughter and lifelong poet, but above all else, she was a warrior. Laura passed away from colon cancer in 2011, less than three years after being diagnosed, but she leaves behind a legacy of beauty, honesty and fortitude. This is Laura's story, told by her mother, Charlene Baldridge.
Kris Saim is a stage III colon cancer patient who has used his diagnosis as motivation to better his own life and increase national awareness of this disease. In recent months, Kris has become quite the activist, rallying his community to join his fight against colon cancer with creative outreach and fun activities. His efforts are driven with so much passion and commitment, Kris has landed the spot as our #1 team and individual Dress in Blue Day fundraisers! We’re inspired by Kris and thrilled to honor him as our March Hero of the Month.
Vanessa Ghigliotty was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer when she was just 27 years old. At the time of her diagnosis, she was unable to walk and her tumor was beginning to protrude out of her right abdominal wall. Eleven years later, Vanessa is dedicated to spreading colon cancer awareness locally and nationally.
Candace Henley was finally diagnosed with stage IIB colon cancer after six months of misdiagnoses. She went from what many called a “superwoman,” to needing her friends and family to take care of her. Candace went through tremendous physical and emotional turmoil, but 10 years later, has a clean bill of health.
Teri Griege was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer just two weeks after completing the Ironman Louisville Triathlon. Despite her disease, Teri continued to train during her treatment and in 2011, participated in the Ironman World Championship. She is a beacon of hope and inspiration for all patients, survivors and caregivers.
Tom Jones is a stage IV colon cancer survivor. When he was diagnosed at age 60, he was told he would not live more than two years. That was 16 years ago.
While on the way to a blind date, Chris’ stomach became extremely upset. At first, he chalked it up to food poisoning, but after seeing a doctor, he realized this was not the case. And the next 10 months proved to be quite a rollercoaster for this 48-year-old.
Janell had no symptoms of colon cancer. In fact, when she found herself in the emergency room for an unrelated reason, she was surprised when the doctor decided to screen her for colon cancer, despite her being younger than 50. And these tests wound up saving her life.
During a routine OBG-YN visit, Tonya’s doctor noticed her family history of colon cancer and, despite her being only 46 years old, suggested a colonoscopy. Although surprised, Tonya had the screening test. She shares about her testing experience and what resulted.
When Keith noticed blood in his stool at age 41, he assumed it was from a hemorrhoid or rubbing too hard. But a few months later, an FOBT and colonoscopy showed otherwise. He shares about these screening methods and the impact of a positive attitude when battling cancer.
Author/speaker Michael King was shocked and confused when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008. As his life turned into a whirlwind of doctor’s visits and surgeries, Michael used the art of writing to turn tragedy into knowledge and hope.
Jose was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008. He knew he had a family history of colorectal cancer, but didn’t think that was something he needed to worry about until he was older. He wants you to learn from his near fatal mistake.
Jodie discovered a cancerous tumor in her colon when she had her first colonoscopy at the age of 37. She emphasizes how young people need to know about getting screened.
Tony's stage II cancer was diagnosed only after he started experiencing symptoms. He stresses the importance of family history.
Christina was her mother's primary caregiver until her mother died of colon cancer. She offers advice to other caregivers and family members of colon cancer patients.
Disclaimer: The stories included in this section are anecdotes provided by individuals and are neither presented as a substitute for medical advice, nor are they necessarily medically accurate. The CCA does not endorse any particular opinion expressed or treatment described. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. If you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem you should consult your physician. Please see our full disclaimer.