“It was like someone had hit me in the chest and knocked me over,” said colon cancer survivor Cheryl “Cee” Alston, after finding out she had cancer. “It was so devastating to find out that my symptoms turned out to be colon cancer!”
Alston was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer at age 56, after a physician initially attributed her symptoms to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
“My mistake was not asking questions, which might have prompted me to get a colonoscopy sooner,” said Alston. “We need to ask more questions and we have to choose life.”
Alston, who also has been cancer-free since January 2015, pledges to learn as much as she can about colon cancer, while educating and engaging the community. In October 2015, Alston and her friend, Sheila Whitehead, directed the Colon Cancer Coalition’s 5K walk and run, “Get Your Rear In Gear.”
The Colon Cancer Coalition (CCC) is an advocacy group dedicated to spreading awareness about colon cancer and empowering patients. Alston and Whitehead contributed to the CCC’s efforts by surpassing the team’s $2,000 fundraising goal. Despite the rainy, cold day, 130 participants, including a man who brought his oxygen pack on the walk, joined “Get your Rear in Gear” at Rock Creek Park. Together the team raised a total of $8,580, which will help patients with colon cancer at MedStar Georgetown.
“When I found out about the patient care fund at MedStar Georgetown, I knew that I wanted to donate the money there. This was the best hospital experience of my life, beginning with my consultation for surgery with Dr. Mohammed Bayasi!” said Alston. “I know there is someone somewhere who might need help getting to their doctor’s appointments or need a place to stay after surgery. We want to help!”
The donation will go to the Lombardi Patient Assistance Fund to financially help patients with colon cancer maintain continued care, safety and quality life. Research shows that cancer costs can interfere with a patient’s focus on recovery. Alston’s donation will be a valuable resource for families in need of financial assistance with taxi rides, nearby hotel stays, purchasing medicine, buying food and more.
“We recognize that cancer can touch so many other parts of a patient’s life that insurance might not cover,” said Joanne Assarasan, LICSW OSW-C. “If we can help for a little bit, we can bridge a gap and lessen the financial burden with this donation.”
Alston and Whitehead’s foundation, “Cee’s Cause 4 a Cure,” focuses on funding support for colon cancer patients and survivors in need of financial assistance. The foundation focuses on fundraising goals and engaging adults, especially African Americans, on colon cancer screening.
“This is one donation to MedStar Georgetown, but our goal is to get more sponsors and keep the funds growing so we can continue to support patients in this way,” said Alston. “I want them to know that there is hope!”
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