Ed and Darla Stratton, married for more than 35 years with two daughters, faced an incredible blow with Ed’s April 2019, colon cancer diagnosis. Recently, Darla and Ed hosted “Swing Fore the Cause'' to raise awareness and funds for Fight CRC. The Strattons raised almost $40,000 through their TopGolf, Chesterfield, Missouri, event.

Ed and Darla Stratton, "Swing Fore the Cause" TopGolf Event

Colon Cancer Diagnosis [Despite Doing All the Right Things]

Ed Stratton, a stage IV colon cancer survivor and advocate, is proof that anyone can get colon cancer, despite doing all the right things.

After his first colonoscopy at age 50, Ed’s doctor told him everything looked fine and that Ed didn’t need to followup for 10 years.

Fast forward nine years later, out of the blue, Ed started passing large amounts of blood. 

With no previous issues, or signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer, Ed and Darla were concerned enough to take Ed to the ER.

After undergoing tests, scans, and biopsies, about two weeks later, doctors told Ed he had a spot on his liver, which was traced back to Ed’s colon.

Colon Cancer Found on His Liver

Ed said his diagnosis was a little tricky because after performing a colonoscopy, the doctors did not find colon cancer nor did they see any tumors. 

Looking back, Darla believes there may have been too much blood in Ed’s colon for the doctors to see clearly and that his colonoscopy wasn’t "clean" but "inconclusive."

Meanwhile, scans at that time revealed a tumor on Ed’s liver, and an oncologist was brought in for a biopsy.

On April 1, 2019, Ed was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. The results of the biopsy showed that Ed had colon cancer, which metastasized to his liver.

Darla’s No. 1 Tip When a Loved One Is Diagnosed

Darla believes whole-heartedly that when a loved one is diagnosed, people should get a second opinion. It is vital that everyone knows their options and choices.

Ed credits Darla for her research, being proactive, and advocating on his behalf for getting him to where he is today. 

As Darla explained, she and Ed were devastated by his diagnosis, and his original oncologist explained Ed's proposed treatment plan without any real options. Meanwhile, their minds were reeling. 

Struggling from originally being told that Ed didn’t have colon cancer to dealing with his diagnosis, Darla felt frustrated and reached out to friends in the medical field. 

Thanks to Darla, Ed was treated by one of the best oncologists, Dr. Benjamin Tan, at one of the best cancer treatment centers in the country, The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine (Siteman).

Ed’s Treatment Team

Ed’s treatment strategy at Siteman was similar to his original oncologist’s proposed plan. Both oncology teams recommended chemotherapy and surgery

However, there was a nuance as to how the treatment would be administered. While Ed’s previous oncologist recommended 12 chemotherapy treatments followed by surgery, Siteman presented a treatment plan for six chemotherapy infusions, followed by surgery, with an additional six chemotherapy infusions after Ed’s surgery.

These treatment plans were “sort of the same. But not,” said Darla. 

Both Ed and Darla felt an ease and relief after speaking with the Siteman treatment team because the oncologist, Dr. Tan, spent well over an hour with them explaining the details of the treatment plan.

Dr. Tan told Ed and Darla, "We are going for a cure.” While he didn't promise any timeline or that treatment would be simple, Dr. Tan did believe that a cure was possible for Ed.

For the first time since Ed’s diagnosis, the Strattons felt hope.

Being confident and comfortable with Ed’s treatment team was crucial for Ed and Darla. In the worst of circumstances, after first and second opinions, the Strattons knew that the Siteman treatment team would be integral to Ed’s treatment success and outcome.

The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Comprehensive Cancer Center. Siteman has an exceptional rating, which is the highest NCI rating, and also ranks among the best cancer centers in the nation according to U.S. New & World Report

Darla felt fortunate that Siteman was “practically in our backyard.” She stresses the importance and power of a second opinion.

The Treatment Plan

Ed’s initial treatment plan consisted of six chemotherapy infusions. His first surgery was August 2019, followed by six more infusions. 

When Ed’s scans came back with no evidence of disease, the Strattons were excited. 

In retrospect, Ed said they were naive. 

Their excitement was short lived when a month later, follow-up scans showed Ed’s cancer had returned with additional spots on his liver. 

He had a second liver surgery in March 2020. However, one of the spots on Ed’s liver was too close to his bile duct, so they were unable to remove it. As a result, Ed had targeted radiation, which they believed helped.

Until a spot returned.

Another Liver Surgery

With the relief that Ed’s colon cancer has not returned, the Strattons and their treatment team were frustrated that spots on his liver kept reappearing. 

Finally, in March 2022, Ed’s doctors recommended resecting half of his liver, and the Strattons were fully on board.

"Swing Fore the Cause" to Give Back

Following Ed’s March surgery, clean scans, and while maintenance chemo was winding down, the Strattons felt relieved and confident about their future.

“Swing Fore the Cause” was an opportunity for the Strattons to both give back and pay forward to the colorectal cancer community and Fight CRC.

Strategic in their planning, the Strattons decided to schedule their event for a few hours on a Tuesday night rather than dedicate an entire day to a golf tournament. Their plan worked.

More than 170 people attended “Swing Fore the Cause” to raise awareness and more than $40,000 for Fight CRC and fight against colorectal cancer.

Ed said TopGolf provided the perfect setting, and it was a fundraiser that appealed to everyone. Formed teams were available for those who wanted to golf, but there was also an alternative for people who wanted to support the event and be social, but who didn’t want to golf.

Ed Stratton and Teri Griege Fight CRC Swing Fore The Cause

Fight CRC Connection

Ed and Darla became connected to Fight CRC when a mutual friend introduced them to Teri Griege, a Fight CRC Board Member. Ed and Teri had a lot in common: They share an oncologist, colon surgeon, and liver surgeon. 

Quickly enveloped within the Fight CRC family, Ed became a Fight CRC Ambassador in 2020. While COVID made the year challenging and may have dampened his Ambassador year, Ed's efforts were not diminished. 

“Fight CRC is a great organization that does so much great work. I’m honored to be an Ambassador for them,” said Ed.

For Darla, appreciation for Fight CRC comes in many forms, such as their advocacy work for policy change. However, she noted it’s important that Fight CRC also addresses individual needs with patient education resources and materials that are extensive and available for both patients and caregivers. 

Research is also a priority, and Darla spoke about Fight CRC’s involvement with that as well. Ultimately, Darla says, “Fight CRC covers all the bases.” 

“Swing Fore the Cause” combined the Stratton’s enjoyment of golf with raising awareness and funds. 

Ed’s No. 1 Tip for People Diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer

After Ed was diagnosed, he said it was important to keep normalcy in his life. He recommends doing what you’ve done before being diagnosed and not to assume you can’t do things once you’ve been diagnosed. 

Ed kept golfing through diagnosis, treatments, and surgeries. So, it’s no surprise that golf factored into his awareness and fundraising efforts.

Raising Awareness

Another important aspect of “Swing Fore the Cause” was raising awareness. Ed pointed out that for as much information that exists, there is a lot of misinformation about colorectal cancer as well. 

With the statistic that by 2030, colorectal cancer is projected to be the leading cause of cancer deaths in people ages 20-49, Ed felt it was important to draw attention to colorectal cancer. 

The Stratton’s two daughters fall within the 2030 age range statistic. 

One of the benefits of their daughters falling within the age range was having them and their friends attend the TopGolf event.

Ed and Darla have met so many people who fall within that age range who are fighting colorectal cancer, and they can’t bear to see family go through the devastation they’ve gone through.

Signs and Symptoms

Ed said undoubtedly that it was a relief that his symptoms were so drastic because they gave him the urgency to go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer can be vague, such as fatigue, nausea, or constipation.

“The symptoms are things that people don’t want to talk about.” 

–Darla Stratton

Colorectal cancer is no longer an older person’s disease. Younger people are being misdiagnosed or diagnosed at a late stage.

Attendees of the TopGolf event left informed and knowledgeable about signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, as well the need for screening. 

Ed Stratton Video Fight CRC Interview Local News
Ed Stratton October 27, 2022, interview KMOV.

The Guest List

When considering the Guest List, Darla laughed and said, “We invited everyone we knew.” 

Ed noted that Teri was instrumental in assisting in such a great turnout. Both Teri and Ed’s oncologist (Dr. Tan), colon surgeon (Dr. Mutch), and liver surgeon (Dr. Chapman) attended the event. 

While Dr. Tan doesn’t golf, he attended "Swing Fore the Cause" and brought his staff. Both Dr. Mutch and Dr. Chapman assembled teams to golf. 

Ed’s colon surgeon, Dr. Matthew Mutch, interviewed by local station KMOV, said that nearly 20%-30% of his patients are under age 45.

“To have a colon surgeon with his expertise saying that 20%-30% percent of his patients are under age 45 highlights the need for funding and research for colorectal cancer.”

–Ed Stratton

Best Part of "Swing Fore the Cause"

In addition to raising awareness and funds at the “Swing Fore the Cause” event, Ed and Darla said the best part of the event was having both daughters attend, as well as the support they had.

“I introduced my oldest daughter to Dr. Tan. And she got emotional. Then he got emotional. And then I got emotional. These doctors – they don’t treat patients. They treat families. So to have her meet him knowing all he’s done for me. So to have her meet him was really a special part of the event.”

–Ed Stratton

“My favorite part of the program was when Teri spoke, and then we played a video, which Elizabeth Jordan from Fight CRC put together and which was very eye-opening. You could look around the room and see people were in awe watching the videos of what Fight CRC does, and how it affects families. To see the room full of people, which was mostly people we know, was very heartwarming to know that we had that much support.”

–Darla Stratton

"Swing Fore the Cause" Event Was a Success!

While Darla said the concept of hosting such a large event could have been scary, partnering with Fight CRC was helpful. 

Elizabeth was instrumental in helping the Strattons’ event come to life with her creativity from setup, to helping with signs and balloons, to what would appear on the TV screens in the rooms.

Teri assisted with encouraging such an amazing turnout. 

Ed was quick to add that Darla was pivotal to the success of their “Swing Fore the Cause” event. 

“This event couldn’t have happened without Darla’s great work. She is organized and handled all of the paperwork. We’ve never done anything like this before, so we went into it thinking, we would just do the best we could.”

–Ed Stratton

If you’re interested in hosting a coloretal cancer awareness event, we would love to help you learn more!

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