I run the Get Your Rear in Gear 5K for my Aunt Pat who died of colon cancer in August of 1999. She was 44 years old. I run for her. I run because I can. I’m a little slow, but I run because she can’t.
Pat was the glue that held my family together. She was born in Philadelphia in 1954, the youngest of four children. Her grandfather died of colon cancer in 1953, the year before she was born. My grandfather had stomach and throat cancers as well as colon cancer, but survived them all ending up with a colostomy bag. Ironically because of her father’s and grandfather’s cancers, she got a colonoscopy every year after the age of 40. While some polyps were found, they were always removed without incident. She was one of a very small percentage of cancers that “grew the other way” on the colon and was not detected by the colonoscopy.
Pat was diagnosed in November of 1998. In May of 1999, she danced at her son’s wedding while continuing to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment at Crozer Chester Hospital in Upland, Pennsylvania. By the last week of July she was sent home on hospice. Pat succumbed to the disease in August of that year, leaving behind two sons, Mark and Vincent. This world is a much dimmer place without her.
I was a freshman in college when Pat died. My mother tried to shield me from the effects of her sickness, but it was impossible especially near the end. Pat was my mother’s baby sister and while she went to take care of Pat, I watched over my two little sisters and couldn’t imagine the pain my mother was going through. Even though I knew very little at the time, Pat’s battle has left an impression on me. She looked at me one time when I was visiting her in the hospital and croaked out “Don’t ever get sick”.
Eight years later my doctor wanted to put me on high blood pressure medication at the age of 27 because of my weight, I thought about Pat and how selfish I was being not treating my body right. She has been the inspiration behind my 55 pound loss. I ran across your organization while looking for 5ks in the southern New Jersey area and have been telling everyone who would listen about it. I just want to make sure that she is not forgotten, and hopefully she did not die in vain. I thank you and your organization for what you do in spreading the word about early diagnosis.