Dale Halvorson, my father, was known as “Coach” to all who knew him. He was a U of M football player and lifelong MClub supporter and fan. He proudly served in the Navy. He coached boys swimming and football at Southwest High School in Minneapolis for nearly 30 years, and continued to work and volunteer as a swimming and track official for nearly 20 years after his retirement. My father was a very strong, healthy man throughout his entire life. He was never sick, and his only surgery was to have his gallbladder removed in 1966! He was an extremely disciplined person, who did not miss any physicals or preventive exams or check-ups.
In August of 2006, at the age of 69, Dad experienced severe stomach pains one afternoon. To our shock, he was diagnosed in the ER with colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver and adrenal glands (stage 4). He had never had a symptom or pain until that day. Two days later he had surgery, but was told that the cancer was advanced and the only hope to give him time was to try chemotherapy- with no guarantees. From that point forward, he did not hesitate and had chemo treatments for 18 months, often weekly. He recovered from numerous lengthy hospital stays, even after we were told twice to plan his funeral. He had an amazing oncologist who treated him as a partner in his treatment. The doctor was as disheartened as our family when the chemo did not work. My father died on July 4, 2008, surrounded by close family and friends.
I tell you all of this to urge you all to support the Colon Cancer Coalition and the work that they do. Our family believes that if my father had more preventive screenings done, and was not at the mercy of decisions made by individual doctors, clinics, and insurance companies not to use them, that his cancer would have been detected at some point earlier so that he would have had a chance to beat it. He fought an amazing fight, chronicled on his CaringBridge website that has had over 22,500 visits since his diagnosis from people who have followed his journey, many of whom looked up to my father as a Hero in their lives.
I learned of the Get Your Rear in Gear event while sitting in a recliner next to my father at Minnesota Oncology Hematology, PA (MOHPA) as he had one of his last chemo treatments last spring. They had brochures about the event. I immediately registered and some friends joined me for the walk. I thought the event was the perfect way to honor a “Coach”. We raised several hundred dollars in just a few days. This year my goal is to expand Halvo’s Angels to include as many friends and family as possible, and to raise several thousand dollars. We’ll see you all at the walk!!!
~ Sara Halvorson