10 Ways to Support a Survivor This Month


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Theresa Maschke joined the Fight CRC team in May 2021 as a Content Writer, binding her love of writing and editing with her experience as her husband’s (a stage III survivor) caregiver. Theresa lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with her husband, Joe; three kids, Elizabeth, Joey, and Caroline; and newest addition, her puppy named Buddy!

My husband Joe was diagnosed with stage IIIb rectal cancer three-and-a-half years ago. 

We were stunned. “Stunned” doesn’t begin to explain how scared, shocked, upset, and devastated we were. Joe and I were scrambling on the way home from the colonoscopy, trying to figure out how to tell the kids that his GI doctor found a tumor, which was most likely cancer. 

The first two or three weeks were brutal. We didn’t want to share the bad news with family and close friends until we knew what we were dealing with, met with doctors, and had a plan in place.

When we finally told people that Joe had “cancer” (we couldn’t even say “colorectal” must less “rectal”), people showed up like never before – all asking, “What do you need? What can I do?”

Now I know what I need: I need you. I need your voice to push our federal government for a plan and funding for colorectal cancer. I need you to help create awareness, get screened, and help others get screened. 

Without further ado: Here are the Top 10 Things You Can Do for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! (Nine out of 10 of these are free!)

1. Attend Call-on Congress on March 16 and 17.

You can travel to Washington, D.C., or you can meet with members of Congress virtually. Training is provided, so you’re not thrown to the wolves. You will leave training well-prepared with specific requests. You don’t need to be affected directly by colorectal cancer to attend Call-on Congress. Do you know someone with colorectal cancer? Are you concerned about your kids one day being affected? Don’t wait to get involved. The time is now!

2. Sign up to be an advocate!

If you can't come and can't do meetings virtually? You're in luck! We have all the tools you need to be an advocate. During Call-on Congress, we'll email you with instructions for an action alert. Don’t know what one is? Full disclosure: neither did I! Here’s the deal: We’ll provide a link with what you need to email or post to urge our legislature to act and create a plan and funding for colorectal cancer. The beauty of an action alert is the strength in numbers. It’s hard to ignore people emailing or posting en masse!

3. Honor your loved one at our United in Blue installation.

From March 13-18, 2022, Fight CRC will be sponsoring the first-ever installation honoring the colorectal cancer community on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

First-ever! You will NEVER have the opportunity to be part of this first-ever installation again! 

Just submit a name and photo of your loved one. It’s free! (*whispering* we would never turn down a donation, which funds cutting-edge, life-saving research.) 

4. Submit a state proclamation request to designate March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

How awesome would it be to have all 50 states designate March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month? It only takes a few minutes and we have a toolkit with ALL the information, including proclamation language, that you need to submit to your state’s governor. My state (New Jersey) has a section where I could add additional comments: So I did. I talked about the need for awareness and screening. 

Don’t count your town out!

I requested a state proclamation from my governor, and I wondered if my town’s mayor would consider a declaration for March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. I sent him an email, and received an email saying he is signing a declaration for March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month on Monday, March 7, at 7pm and asking if I would like to attend. I am super excited by the support! 

5. Share your story and read others' stories.

You can’t imagine the number of people who will read your story and think, “That’s almost exactly my story!” There’s no better way to create awareness and educate people about colorectal cancer than by sharing your story. There is no better way to heal than by sharing your story. People who read your story really understand that “no one fights alone.” 

6. Wear blue and raise awareness, especially during March.

We’ve got you covered — literally! Bonus points for wearing any gear bearing the words “colorectal cancer.” Again, we’ve got you covered!

7. Decorate your home or yard.

For example, we have a "Big Tree" in our front yard. I just ordered (and received!) blue lights from Amazon and we are wrapping that tree and turning it blue for March.

8. Donate!

If you don’t have time to attend Call-on Congress in person or virtually, it’s OK! You can still help. Whatever you donate is most appreciated. 

9. Post your #Strongarmselfie on social media and be sure to tag @FightCRC.

Fight CRC gets $1 for every post. Tell a friend. Post often!

Be sure to tag us @FightCRC and use #StrongArmSelfie #RelentlessChampions #ColorectalCancer #EAOCRC  #PrioritizeCRC and #CRCAdvocacy.

10. Get screened.

Colorectal cancer is one of the only cancers you can prevent by finding polyps before turning into cancer. All adults over age 45 are at risk for colorectal cancer and should talk to their doctor about screening. Do you have a family history? Get screened 10 years before that family member was diagnosed. For example, my kids will be screened at 37 years old, since Joe was diagnosed at age 47. 

By 2030, colorectal cancer is projected to become the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in people ages 20-49. Know your history. Know the signs and symptoms. 

Don’t be embarrassed to speak with your doctor. The sooner you see a doctor, the better your outcome may be.

Read Theresa's Other Blog Posts

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