Help increase screening and prevention for colon & rectal cancer.


Chance Encounter Saves Life of Pittsburgh Mother


The Loera Family

Mary Loera, mother of two from Pittsburgh, PA, had her life turned upside down by a chance encounter with another parent, an encounter that would ultimately save her life after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Following her diagnosis and treatment Mary partnered with her company to raise awareness and encourage others to take action and be screened for colon cancer. Mary planned a benefit walk for the Colon Cancer Coalition on a steamy Wednesday in July.

During a wrestling tournament planning meeting for her boys, Parker, 10, and Christopher, 12, Dr. Mark Cedar, the father of another wrestler, approached Mary to tell her he would be out of town the weekend of the tournament, attending a medical convention. She and Dr. Cedar began to talk about his practice; he explained to her that he is a gastroenterologist. Mary half-jokingly said to him, “You are just the guy I need to see!”

Dr. Cedar asked her if she was having problems. Mary didn’t want to intrude on his personal time, but he generously offered to talk to her about her symptoms. After the conversation, Dr. Cedar recommended Mary have a colonoscopy. While she wasn’t completely thrilled about it, she figured, “Hey, I’m only 40-years-old. What could possibly be wrong?” Mary’s colonoscopy was done on March 20, 2012. When she awoke following the procedure, Dr. Cedar informed her he had removed four polyps during her test. Two days later, he called to inform her one of the polyps was cancerous. Fortunately for her, it was Stage 0.

Mary went on to have the TEMS procedure (transanal endoscopic micro-surgery) performed on April 4, 2012. All went well. “I have been following up with my surgeon, and I will now need to be vigilant about following up with my doctors on a regular basis,” Mary explained. “God willing, I have a nice long future ahead of me!”

This life threatening scare inspired Mary to turn it into an opportunity. After her diagnosis and surgery, she returned to work at PPG Industries Inc., in Pittsburgh, PA, participating in a leadership meeting. “To kick off the meeting, our director placed us into groups of 3 or 4 people. We were given 10 minutes to come up with a charity event we could lead at work. We had to give our fundraising group a name and had to provide a high level explanation of what we would do for our event. When I was diagnosed, was one of the first sites I viewed. It immediately came to mind!”

Mary took this idea and immediately put it to work. She organized a Get Your Rear in Gear lunch time walk that took place on Wednesday, July 25. Mary and her coworkers have raised $940 to date for Colon Cancer Coalition/Get Your Rear in Gear.

Mary will have been married to her high school sweetheart, Heath, for 18 years this September. In her off time she enjoys running and doing kettle bell classes. Mary and Heath take active roles to support their sons’ wrestling and football teams by coaching and serving on the boards that support the teams. The family enjoys spending time with their yellow lab named Lucky and warm weather beach vacations. And of course being from Pittsburgh they are big Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Go Steelers!

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