Tom Foeller – Portland, Oregon
by Carlene Canton
Tom Foeller joined the Grassroots Action Committee* this year but he is certainly no stranger to Fight Colorectal Cancer or to cancer itself. Diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer in 2006, Tom fought long and hard for the strength and health he enjoys – and puts to good use – today. Now as a four-time participant in Call-on Congress, a former regional director for Fight Colorectal Cancer and an active member of the Fight Colorectal Cancer Oregon contingent, thoughts of how to reach and help colorectal cancer patients and how to motivate congressional change are never far from Tom’s daily thoughts.
After diagnosis, Tom devoted all his energy and resources to beating cancer which he did with three surgeries and a year of treatment including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy .He spent a large part of his recovery on his living room couch recuperating with his dog Seco at his side. Retiring two years early from his job at Bonneville Power Administration in Oregon allowed him to dedicate his energy to his recovery. And after recovering he didn’t stop but kept fighting. This time not only for his own health but for the legislative changes needed to make sure that screening could catch colorectal cancers earlier and other families would not have to suffer as his did.
His work has been inspirational to many, including his wife Meri and his children and three grandchildren. He has developed and maintained political contacts in Washington, DC and at home in Oregon. Some of his state and national representatives know him and his story. He even discussed the importance of health care over lunch with President Obama and 2 other Vietnam-era Veterans on July 24, 2012. Legislators know and respect that he represents others who share some of his cancer-related experiences but can’t yet be the voices or the citizen lobbyists they want to be. He speaks for many and many listen.
When he is not fighting the Fight CRC fight for colorectal cancer prevention, screening and care, Tom is enjoying an active retirement. In 2007 he got the words every cancer patient wants to hear and today he remains cancer-free more than seven years after his first surgery. Tom is also very active on several boards and committees in his area, saying it’s a pleasure to be able to give back to the community.
“Meri and I have been enjoying our family and friends,” Tom reports. “I’ve been playing city-league softball for three seasons now, and basketball for four. We’ve taken some long distance sailboat voyages and had some great vacations. We have enjoyed dance and Spanish lessons, yoga, and walking our dog. We bought an ocean-going sailboat and will be heading north soon.
“My disease, in a weird way, brought ALL these things to the forefront of my life. I’m living my dream, have a “second wind”, and appreciate every minute of it! I thank God, Meri, my doctors and health care workers, family and friends, and Seco, too, for all you’ve done for my life!
*The Grassroots Action Committee is the catalyst of our grassroots advocate community, and helps Fight Colorectal Cancer achieve our strategic goals and objectives by empowering grassroots advocates across the country. These active volunteers serve a one-year term and help us achieve our strategic goals and objectives.
Committee members are selected via an application process and must have attended the Call-on Congress. If you are interested in learning more about the Grassroots Action Committee or serving on the Committee contact us.
Have a question or need more information about ways to get involved? You can contact any member of the Grassroots Action Committee by emailing Advocacy@FightCRC.org.