It is with a heavy heart that we report the death of Janet Turcotte, C3 friend and advocate, after a 3 year battle against Stage IV colon cancer. She passed away early this morning, surrounded by her family, at the age of 57.
C3 first got to know this remarkable woman in early 2006 when she responded to a request for survivor stories in the Washington, DC area. We learned that she was deeply involved in the horse racing community, and had successfully lobbied for the colorectal cancer blue star of hope to be embroidered on the saddle cloths for the Preakness Stakes. We embraced the opportunity to work with Janet to help spread awareness of the star as the symbol of colorectal cancer. Thanks to C3′s efforts, Janet’s story was reported by print and television media throughout the country in the days leading up to the race, including this interview on CNN Headline News in May 2006:
Despite multiple surgeries and the pain of treatment, Janet continued working with C3 on behalf of the entire colorectal cancer community. She forged a very strong relationship with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and his staff. She sat down for meetings, wrote letters and made phone calls all in order to educate them on colorectal cancer and the need for increased funding.
In March Janet participated in C3’s Annual Call-on Congress. During a meeting with Senator Cardin she had the opportunity to present to him one of the saddle cloths from the 2006 Preakness Stakes.
In May, Janet was formally recognized on the floor of the United States Senate by Senator Cardin for her tireless efforts as a colorectal cancer advocate.
These words by her dear friends and fellow advocates, Suzanne Lindley and Erika Hanson Brown echo the loss felt by the entire C3 community:
Thank you, Janet, for the friendship and the gift of knowing you; for your bravery, your grace, and your zest for life. Your ability to create awareness and your talent for design will forever adorn the halls of Congress and the Preakness race and far beyond. The courage of your voice will always be heard and the light of your unending hope remembered. “And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” – what a beautiful angel has joined that flight. Our heartfelt sympathy to your wonderful family and the circle of friends who will miss you. Soar forever, my friend, soar always.
Update:After learning that Janet’s illness was in its final stages but before her death, Senator Cardin once again recognized Janet on the Senate floor.
Below is an excerpt from the Congressional Record of September 20, 2007:
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I wish to recognize one of my constituents, Janet Turcotte of Bowie, Maryland. I was fortunate to meet Janet in March of this year when she visited my Washington office. She came as part of C3, the Colorectal Cancer Coalition, a group whose mission is to eliminate suffering and death due to colorectal cancer.
Janet is a talented embroiderer, and for more than 20 years she has been decorating saddlecloths for the thoroughbreds at Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course. For the past 2 years, she has added the colorectal cancer “Blue Star of Hope” to the saddlecloths of the contenders for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. Recognizing that the Preakness has more than 17 million television viewers each year, Janet aims to use this symbol to encourage early screening for colorectal cancer, and to save lives. Janet graciously brought me one of those “Blue Star” saddlecloths, which is now displayed in my personal office.
Janet Turcotte is far more than an advocate for colorectal health. She is also a patient. First diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer 4 years ago, she is currently battling her third recurrence of the disease. Last week, Janet’s doctors told her that she does not have much time left.
Janet’s message to Congress and to all Americans is an urgent and important one. It is that early screening, diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer can save lives. The American Cancer Society, whose members will visit Capitol Hill soon, reports that in 2006, more than 150,000 new cases of colon cancer were diagnosed and more than 50,000 Americans died from the disease, including more than 1,000 Marylanders. I ask my colleagues to join me in extending our appreciation to Janet Turcotte , a dedicated and courageous advocate for colorectal health, for her selfless efforts to promote a healthier America.