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!

We are beyond thrilled to announce our newest partnership with Steiner Sports, the leading producer of authentic hand-signed memorabilia!

The kick-off event for this ground-breaking partnership is the 2017 BLUEFORYOU EXPERIENCE to be held in New Rochelle, New York on November 30. CEO and Founder of Steiner Sports Brandon Steiner and Colon Cancer Foundation President and Founder Dr. Thomas K. Weber, MD, FACS will co-host the event. Guests attending the BLUEFORYOU EXPERIENCE will have an exclusive opportunity to meet and interact with baseball legend and two-time colon cancer survivor Darryl Strawberry. Rising hip-hop artist Mark MK will also perform his new song “PYB – Protect Ya Butt.”

“Having the support of Steiner Sports in the fight against colon cancer provides us with a unique channel to reach out to the millions of Americans who aren’t getting screened,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, CCCF founder. “Too many people avoid talking about colon cancer because they are unaware or scared, and Steiner Sports is uniquely positioned to help us provide that education.”

“Our kick-off event is just the beginning,” said Brandon Steiner, Steiner Sports CEO and Founder. “Colon Cancer is the number two cancer killer in the USA, and we need to shake things up and raise awareness. If we can get our broad reaching community, talking about colon cancer they will get screened earlier and lives will be saved.”

The money raised during the BLUEFORYOU EXPERERIENCE will directly support Protect Your Butt, our our hilarious, butt-busting, belfie-posting public awareness campaign, as well as our life saving colorectal cancer research, education and screening programs. PYB is breaking through all stigmas and fears around colon cancer and screening and massively increasing awareness – but we need to keep spreading the word!

To find our more and purchase tickets to the 2017 BLUEFORYOUEXPERIENCE, visit https://blueforyou.greatfeats.com/.

We are honored to be able to share another incredible story from Team Colon Cancer Challenge.  Diane Hauder will be running her 6th marathon on November 5.  This year’s TCS NYC Marathon will also be on Diane’s birthday weekend – and, sadly, it will be her first birthday since her mom passed away from colon cancer.  We are in awe of Diane’s dedication to running and her commitment to honoring her mother’s memory by conquering the one and only NYC Marathon.  For more about Diane, read on.

Soon to be six-time marathoner Diane Hauder

What is your connection to colorectal cancer?

My Mom, Susan Hauder, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer the week of Thanksgiving 2016, and put up a noble fight, but passed away on April 1, 2017.  This was my first exposure to colon cancer, and sparked myself and my two brothers into action, two of us getting our first colonoscopies and for one of us his second.  Thankfully we all received a clean bill of health.

Are you running in honor of a loved one?

I am running in memory of my mom, Susan Hauder.  I will be dedicating every stride to the woman who gave me life and made me the strong, independent, marathon-running woman I am today.  My mom was a wonderful, caring woman, who lived each day of her life with the goal of making others happy and feel special and loved.  She had a contagious laugh and a warm and welcoming embrace that everyone seemed to gravitate to.  She was the Nana to five grandchildren, who lovingly referred her to as Ninja Nana.

Diane and her mom Susan

Why did you decide to join Team Colon Cancer Challenge?

I had applied to run the NYC Marathon for the last two years via the lottery, unsuccessful both years.  Early this summer I was having a conversation with a friend who is running NYC, and he mentioned that the first time he ran NYC he ran for a charity.  This conversation sparked the thought of running for charity; at the same time I had been working with ALS on charity spots for the Chicago Marathon, as a member of my running group, Libertyville Running Club, was diagnosed last year with ALS.  This conversation again reinforced the ability to run a major marathon for charity.  I also had a few other conversations about running the NYC Marathon with other friends – so it felt that something was in the air!  I then began to research the Charity Partners of the NYC Marathon, knowing that if I ran for charity it would need to be a charity that was meaningful to me, this is when I discovered the Colon Cancer Foundation.  Reading the mission of CCF, I was even more drawn to the possibility of running, as part of the mission is early detection screening, something that could have facilitated a much earlier diagnosis of my mom’s cancer.

What are you most looking forward to in conquering the NYC Marathon?

There are so many things I am looking forward to:

  • It’s my birthday weekend! This will be my first birthday without my mom, so finding a way to honor her was very important to me – and running a marathon in her memory is perfect!
  • One of my brothers, his wife, along with some of my friends are coming to NYC for the whole weekend – celebrating my birthday and spectating the marathon!
  • Completing the NYC Marathon, my 6th marathon and another major/Abbott 6 Star event!
  • Running for CCF, honoring my mom and raising awareness for colon cancer; and
  • Returning to the East Coast where I was born and raised, and running in a city I used to live 12 miles away from (I used to live in Northern NJ- Montclair/Bloomfield and conduct a great deal of business in Manhattan) – which means lots of friends along the route cheering me on!!!

Diane has already reached her fundraising goal (thank you, Diane!), but help her climb the ranks of our top fundraisers by clicking here!

It’s that time of year again, when the members of Team Colon Cancer Challenge are pounding the pavement to train for the race of their lives: the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon.  We have an extraordinary group this year.  Our 25 runners have already raised over $95,000! To check out our full team, click here.

Up first in our 2017 NYC Marathon spotlight is Stephanie Bonomo from Stoneham, Massachusetts.  This is her first marathon.  Stephanie has raised a remarkable $11,600 towards her ambitious (and awesome!) goal of $12K!  Thank you Stephanie!  Here is her story:

Stephanie Bonomo

What is your connection to colorectal cancer?

On April 20, 2017, at the young age of 55, the Honorable Jeffrey Abber lost his 2.5 year battle versus colon cancer.  On that day the world lost an incredibly special human being, and an even more incredible husband, father and friend.

To me Jeff was a friend, a mentor, and my “go to guy” on so many things.  In his passing he has forever left a hole in my heart.  I truly believed that Jeff had many years ahead of him.  He deserved so many more years.  Throughout Jeff’s battle he and his family epitomized positivity and always believed that there would be something around the next corner that would keep Jeff well.  Even when no answers remained the Abbers continued to focus on only the positives and were appreciative of the life Jeff led and the love their family shared.

Why did you decide to join Team Colon Cancer Challenge?

Prior to Jeff’s passing I had vowed to never run a marathon.  Frankly, I thought running 26.2 miles was absurd.  However, shortly before Jeff’s passing, seemingly at random, information for the Colon Cancer Foundation and the NYC Marathon came across my computer.  I felt as though it was meant to be.  What better way to honor Jeff and his family than to follow their lead and channel my grief into something positive.  Thus, with the support of the Abber Family, I joined Team Colon Cancer Challenge and have vowed to raise as much money as possible to aid in the fight against colon cancer.  I want to honor Jeff’s legacy by helping the Colon Cancer Foundation raise funds to find the cure so that others have the opportunity to beat this disease.  #AbberStrongAlways

What are you most looking forward to in conquering the NYC Marathon?

It will make me feel as though I did something I set out to do and more importantly I can visualize Jeff beaming with all of the love everyone has for him.

To learn more about Stephanie and to support her incredible fundraising, click here!

Now that school is back in session and before the summer feels like too distant a memory, we wanted to share with you some exciting updates from the Colon Cancer Foundation HQ!
What did we do this summer? A lot!
To kick things off, in May our very own Dr. Thomas Weber was honored as a Westchester Magazine Healthcare Hero.  Dr. Weber was chosen from a field of almost 100 nominees for his unparalleled commitment to helping colorectal cancer patients and their families while educating and empowering the next generation of surgeons and researchers.  While he has always been a hero to us, we are so proud that Westchester Magazine recognized Dr. Weber with this prestigious honor.

Dr. Weber and his lovely wife Clare

Our Executive Director, Cindy Borassi, with Dr. Weber

Dr. Weber accepts his award

For more photos from the event, click here or visit us on Instagram (@coloncancerchallenge)! Please follow our new Instagram account and help us build our Instacommunity!
Dr. Weber was a busy man this summer.  In July he headed to Florence, Italy for the 2017 InSiGHT (International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumors) Biennial Meeting.  Dr. Weber is on the InSiGHT council and he was invited to speak on early age onset colorectal cancer (EAO-CRC) – one of his specialties and, as we know from our EAO-CRC Symposium, an increasingly serious and urgent problem.
In August, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt featured our very own board member and Stage IV survivor Katie Rich in a video about the rise in colon cancer in those under 50.  The video was produced on the heels of a new American Cancer Society (ACS) studydetailing the terrifying rise in early age onset colorectal cancer deaths.  As with its coverage of the February ACS study on increasing incidence of EAO colorectal cancer, The New York Times quoted Dr. Weber in its article detailing this new study.  We are proud to be recognized as the organization at the forefront of EAO-CRC and will continue to lead the charge to reverse these alarming trends.
On a lighter note, we are thrilled to say that not only did we fill every NYC Marathon spot on Team Colon Cancer Challenge, but our amazing team has already raised more than $90,000!  Stay tuned for spotlight stories on some of our new team members here on the blog.  Prepare to be inspired!  To learn more about this year’s team, click here.
 Finally, there has as always been a lot happening behind the scenes here at CCF HQ, and we have some exciting new events coming up this Fall.
 We hope you will join us in October for the First Annual Rally Against Colon Cancer on Long Island.  Take in the fall foliage on a gorgeous drive out to the Hamptons, meet some new friends, and see some very cool cars!  We are so grateful to our friends at BMW of Freeport, MINI of Freeport and Mercedes-Benz of Massapequa for organizing this incredible fundraiser.
 November will witness the running of the TCS NYC Marathon and the first annual BLUEFORYOU Experience.  More details coming soon!  Thank you to all our partners and supporters.  2017 is going to end on a strong note for CCF and we couldn’t do it without you.

Welcome to the inaugural post in our “Where’s Weber?” blog series!

In this series we will attempt to keep up with our founder, Dr. Thomas Weber, as he trots across the country and around the globe speaking on a variety of topics relating to the newest advances in diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer, screening practices, and trends such as the alarming rise in early age onset of this disease.  This foundation is a testament to the depth of Dr. Weber’s commitment to eradicating this disease and supporting all who are fighting it, and we are excited to loop our community into Dr. Weber’s ground-breaking work.

Event: World Endoscopy Organization Colorectal Cancer Screening Committee Meeting

Where and When: Chicago, May 5, 2017

Dr. W’s Gig: Presentation on “Young Onset CRC” as part of the session on Risk Groups

JB: Why is it important to take the time out of your already packed schedule to attend events like this?

TW: I would say it’s because so much of this effort is driven by the reality of taking care of people with the disease.  When you do that on a regular basis it prompts you to ask yourself what could we possibly do to prevent this and what could we do to protect people and faciliitate the earliest possible diagnosis.

On the issues of early age onset colorectal cancer (EAO-CRC), the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation started this campaign over four years ago and just finished our Third Annual EAO-CRC Symposium.  We were actively engaged well before this got all the recent press this past March.  It is so important to promote awareness about this issue.  The vast majority of people are diagnosed late and that can translate into poor outcomes.

I see this work as a direct extension of my day job, which is taking care of patients with this disease.  And having done special training in surgical oncology, we are trained to take it to the next level and see what’s really going on.  Giving these talks is a direct continuum and helps promote awareness and provides opportunities to discuss the issues with colleagues and to launch programs to promote awareness and facilitate prevention and earliest possible diagnosis.

JB: What is the World Endoscopy Organization (WEO)?

TW: WEO is truly a global organization of gastro and endoscopy specialists.  This is their annual CRC screening committee meeting.  So the bulk of this meeting was all about trying to fine tune and optimize current screening technologies, including stool testing technologies, improved endoscopic techniques, and very sophisiticaed investigations into the timing and frequency of these tests, reviewing the guidelines in great detail.  The inclusion of EAO-CRC in this program shows grave concern from this organization.  It’s global issue.

This meeting was the day before the start of Digestive Disease Week (DDW), a huge international meeting with thousands of people from all over the world.  WEO holds satellite meetings around DDW, and this was one of them.

JB: Are there any important highlights from this meeting that are particularly relevant to our community?

TW: There was a lot of discussion about very early small adenomas and to what extent is it necessary to continue to follow people, i.e. how often they are screened and with what technique.  We really tried to work through the data and the science to come up with the safest screening schedule.

The major takeaway was from Dr. Sidney Winawer from Memorial Sloane, who said, “The best test is the test that is done well.”  With all the different types of testing, patients can have difficulty naviating and deciding what is the best technique.  Just get it done and get it done well.

There was also important discussion around clinical assessment tools.  There is great international interest in these efforts to provide doctors with decision support tools (e.g. data) to refer patients for a colonoscopy.  There is a very small percentage of people with symptoms and signs that will have CRC, but there are other diseases that people could have that you need to know about because they are treatable!  Treatable diseases like colitis or crohns make people more susceptible to CRC in the future.

The overarching agenda was 1) What’s up with incidence; 2) What are the causes; and 3) What are the action steps to save lives.  It has taken years to make this observation and organize it, to get a grip.  What are the constructive ways to look at it and think about it?

The Colon Cancer Foundation has been instrumental in this effort to break it all down by organizing three summits with faculty from all over the world.  These events have allowed us to really grasp the problem.  We have been at the forefront and want to stay there by forming effective collaborations with the right people.

For more information on the WEO Colorectal Cancer Screening Committee, please click here.

For the full program, click here.

On Sunday, April 30 we hosted the 3rd Annual Westchester Colon Cancer Challenge on the spectacular grounds of Manhattanville College in Purchase.  With great weather, enthusiastic volunteers and sponsors, and spirited teams, this year’s event proved to be a fantastic success.

We would like to thank all of our participants, especially our tireless team captains and amazing fleet of kids who ran an incredible kids race!  We would also like to recognize our first-time participants and welcome them into our community of colon cancer fighters.  As always, we are so grateful to our volunteers and sponsors, without whom this event could not happen.

And we want to congratulate the top finishers of the three-mile fun run:

Top Women
1. Alessandra Rosso
2. Carolun Lisboa
3. Valerie Jaiswal

Top Men
1. Lawrence Rosso
2. Daniel Catappano
3. Brandon Detoma

We look forward to continuing to grow this family-friendly Challenge into Westchester’s premiere colon cancer awareness event.  If you are interested in joining the Westchester Colon Cancer Challenge Committee, please contact us!

For the full slideshow of pictures from this fantastic day, visit us on Facebook.

Who is this guy? We don’t know either. But we DO know that our new campaign is going to be great!

We have launched the #Belfie Challenge.  We have shaken our booties to Mark MK’sPYB (Protect Ya Butt)” in Central Park.  And now we are thrilled to announce that our campaign website, ProtectYourButt.com, is now live!

The Protect Your Butt campaign is going to reach hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions!) of people and we can’t wait for our community to be a part of it.  Read on to find out exactly what we’re up to (and what is UP with that butt in the headset?!) and how you can be a part of this fun, funny, ground-breaking campaign.

Check out our shiny new website!

What is Protect Your Butt?

Protect Your Butt is an initiative of the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation.  Our mission is to raise awareness of colorectal cancer in a new and innovative way, reaching more people than ever before.

Meet Chad. He is a butt.

How are we promoting PYB?

We will accomplish our mission via events like the World’s Largest Booty Shake and the Colon Cancer Challenge; social media initiatives like the #BelfieChallenge; and launching the Butt Dial.  What is the Butt Dial?  If you are among the lucky ones on our call list, you’ll soon find out for yourself!  Chad and his team of butts will be hard at work, making phone calls to help spread the word that colorectal cancer is treatable and beatable if caught early.  And, critically, if you know someone who has been putting off getting a colonoscopy or ignoring serious symptoms, you can nominate him or her to get a call from Chad or one of his colleagues!  You can also share your own cancer butt-kicking story and help inspire others to join our cause.

What do we hope to accomplish with this bonkers approach?

Cold-calling butts?  Really?

Yes.  Really.  Because colorectal cancer is still the second-leading cause of cancer death in this and many other countries.  Because, if caught early, colorectal cancer is treatable and beatable.  Because the dramatic rise in early-age onset colorectal cancer is alarming and ridiculous.  Because people are still not talking about this disease enough.

But maybe people will talk about a fuzzy butt wearing a headset and blue jeans.

And that is where we start.

We hope you will join us.  Click here to Protect Your Butt!

The 14th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge

Mother Nature was in a good mood on Sunday, April 2, providing a glorious, crisp, sunny day for the 14th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge!  This year marked our flagship event’s return to Manhattan – a long-standing request from our community of survivors and other participants which we were thrilled to be able to fulfill this year.

Randall’s Island proved to be an excellent venue for the Colon Cancer Challenge.  Our Wellness Festival, complete with the Rollin’ Colon, Survivor Tent, and kids’ activities, took place on the spacious and sunny concourse level of the iconic Icahn Stadium (I mean, how many times has any New Yorker driven by this stadium? Dozens? Hundreds?).  The kids’ race, 5K, and Remembrance and Prevention Walk started and ended on the stadium’s pristine, colon cancer blue track.  DJ Brad blasted fun music – including Mark MK‘s “PYB (Protect Ya Butt)” – throughout the stadium; and the names of our teams, sponsors, and top supporters projected proudly from the jumbotron.  Our runners and walkers were thrilled with the beautiful 5K course that winds along the shore of Randall’s Island.  The Colon Cancer Challenge has found its new NYC home and we are very excited to re-grow this event in the coming years.

We would like to thank our amazing sponsors and partners, without whom there could be no Colon Cancer Challenge!  Thank you Bracco Diagnostics, Epigenomics, Mount Sinai Health System, Concorde Medical Group, Exact SciencesHealtheo360Remco Press, Perfect Bars, T Wellott Photography, Absolute Entertainment, and Heartfulness.org.

And now, on to Westchester!  Please join us for our third Westchester Colon Cancer Challenge on Sunday, April 30 on the stunning grounds of Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.  To register, click here.

Colon Cancer Awareness Month may be winding down (and what a month it was!) but good news! We have a stellar event lineup planned for April. So keep your blue star pin handy and whip out your sneakers, because here’s what we’ve got going on in Month After Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

APRIL 2: 14th Annual Colon Cancer Challenge – Randall’s Island

Join us as we make our triumphant return to Manhattan this Sunday, April 2.  This year’s Challenge will feature a 5K that winds through gorgeous Randall’s Island and finishes on the famed Icahn Stadium track.  We will also host kids races (with medals!) and, of course, our Remembrance and Prevention Walk.  Randall’s Island is easily accessible from NYC – with plenty of parking! – and has city views you won’t find anywhere else.  Mark MK will also be performing – you don’t want to miss it! Registration opens at 8:30am on Sunday morning.

APRIL 13: Colon Cancer Awareness Night at Yankee Stadium Featuring Mark MK and DJ Theo

Calling all Yankee fans!  Party 105.3FM has partnered with Mark MK and DJ Theo to present Colon Cancer Awareness Night at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, April 13.  Tune into DJ Theo’s show on Party 105.3FM (or listen online at party105.com) TODAY from 5-6pm for more information and a chance to win tickets!

APRIL 30: Colon Cancer Challenge – Westchester

Please join us on the spectacular campus of Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY on Sunday, April 30 for the Westchester Colon Cancer Challenge.  This year’s event will feature a 3 mile mixed terrain fun run, kids fun run (more medals!), and our Remembrance and Prevention Walk.  The Wellness Festival kicks off at 8:30am.  Online registration is still open, so sign up to participate or volunteer.  Bring your family, and encourage your friends to be there or be square.  This is a beautiful, family-focused event that has become a true highlight on our annual event calendar.  We hope to see you there!

As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.  It is so important to us that our events reflect our community.  We only want to host what YOU want to attend!  So please, drop us a line or give us a call to let us know what you think.  We are here for you.  And we’ll see you in April!