With just a few weeks to go before the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon, Team Colon Cancer Challenge continues to rock! Our incredible fundraisers have blazed past our initial goal, taking us over $114,000 and keeping us firmly in the top ten overall NYC Marathon fundraising teams. Congrats to you all, and thank you!

One of our amazing runners, Ceara Kirchner, is new to Team CCCF this year and running her first marathon. Ceara shares her story of how hereditary colon cancer has affected her family on her fundraising page and has given us permission to share it here, with our entire community.

One of the cornerstones of our work here at the Colon Cancer Foundation is raising awareness of and supporting research into hereditary colorectal cancer. “Know your family history” is a common phrase at all our events. Our founder, Dr. Thomas Weber, is one of the leading voices on this topic, speaking all over the world to help advance prevention, screening, and treatment protocols.

Unfortunately, Ceara’s story is one that is all too common. But as she says, hereditary colon cancer is a “preventable, treatable, and beatable disease when caught early.” Ceara has already had her first colonoscopy, at age 30. If more people can follow Ceara’s example, be aware of their family history and proactive in their own care, we can change the future of hereditary colorectal cancer.

Ceara Kirchner

Here is Ceara, in her own words:

Earlier this year I found a list I created 10 years ago with some goals I had for my 20s. On this list was “run a marathon”. My first thought was “well, that didn’t happen in your 20s”. My second thought was “what phase was I in when I wrote this list?” Like so many others, much of my life has been broken into phases because of Colon Cancer.

The phase before my Grandma, Faye Kirchner, was diagnosed with it (during high school), the phase during which she courageously battled it, and the phase after she lost that battle at age 70 (during college.) The phase before my Dad, Jody Kirchner, was diagnosed with stage 4 Colon Cancer at age 48 (during college graduation.) The 2.5 years of laughs, chemo rooms, cries, hospitals, hugs, I love yous, doctor offices, adventures, waiting for results, and creating memories in which he battled with strength, wisdom, humor, love, and regret. You see, one of the many challenges of watching someone battle colon cancer and I’m sure being the one battling colon cancer, is knowing that it is preventable, treatable, and beatable disease when caught early. There are screenings, symptoms, and family history indicators to help catch it early and if you do, the survival rates are much higher. The phase after my Dad passed away at age 50 has been full of grief, navigating life without a loved one, getting my first colonoscopy, lots of “what-ifs”, and new adventures and beginnings.

This year has been the start of a new phase. It’s been 5 years since we lost my Dad, it’s been my first year in a new decade (30!), it will be 10 years since we lost Grandma Faye, it will be the year I venture into married life, and now the year of my first full marathon! I’ve decided it’s time to mark off that bucket list item (albeit, a year late) and I can’t imagine doing it for a better cause.

In full disclosure, my Dad hated running and I’m pretty sure the only time I saw him run was when he saw a snake but I know he would think this was pretty cool (and crazy!) I’m so proud of his fight and the person he was and I’m so happy to run this race in his and my grandma’s memory. I’m just hoping 2 of my favorite guardian angels are able to watch with a proud smile and maybe give me an extra push when needed on race day.

Thank you for taking your time to read my story, regardless of if you are able to donate or not, please encourage a love one to get screened and watch for symptoms and give them an extra hug, because you never know what the future will bring.

A huge thank you to Ceara for helping raise awareness of hereditary colon cancer. To support Ceara, click here!

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