Written By: Caitlin DeVos, in memory of her mother.
My mom, Bev was a beautiful and driven woman. She was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was 16 years old, and I lost her three years later, in 2010, after she battled for 2.5 years against the disease. She was my best friend and my role model. She inspired me by the way she cared for others, held herself professionally and personally accountable, and by how she cultivated meaningful relationships with people. She was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to and she was 100% supportive of my goals and dreams for my life. Not only that, but she challenged me to be my best and to live a fulfilling life.
My mom was diagnosed in January 2008. She went in for a routine colonoscopy after turning 51 and they found Stage 3C colon cancer. She had NO symptoms, so to say we were shocked was an understatement. We were upset, but we were driven to fight back against the disease and confident in her team of doctors to care for her in the best way possible. Personally, it was hard for me because I was a junior in high school and felt unprepared to deal with it. I was angry, confused, and scared when I first heard that she had cancer. However, with the help and support of family & friends, it was so much easier to get by and to take it one day at a time. My mom’s incredibly positive attitude also made it easier to move forward as she began to fight back against the cancer.
My mom lived by a few mottos. She shared with us daily that “attitude is everything,” and “without faith, there is nothing.” She believed in living with a positive attitude and facing adversity with an uplifted spirit. Her faith was important to her and kept her grounded during tough times. She also believed that “we must deal with the cards we are dealt in life.” While her situation sucked, she found ways to smile and laugh each day and also to find ways to make the most out of the situation.
Get Your Rear in Gear means taking action to reduce your risk of cancer or prevent it by catching it early. It means getting your rear in gear to the doctor when you turn 50 to get screened! I encourage people every year during March to ask their parents or loved ones if they have gotten screened. It’s important to me to make sure that people in their twenties like me are checking with their family and friends over 50 to make sure they are on top of this procedure. Colon cancer doesn’t rear its ugly head until it is too late, so it’s important for people to get their rear in gear and take action on behalf of their health. I participated in the Get Your Rear in Gear walk in 2011 after my mom died, and plan to participate in it again to further her legacy.