Meet the One Million Strong- Devan Ellenbarger from Arizona


Champion Stories
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Meet Devan

Family Member/Friend of Patient
Phoenix, Arizona

Devan's Story

In 1999, my older sister April was in and out of the hospitals. She was 22 years old at the time, and she eventually had a colonoscopy. They found polyps, she was told more tests were needed, and none of us knew how bad this was.

My sister was a strong woman and, at the time, the mother of two boys, Brian and Austin. My sister was not aware of how important her appointments were. She would skip them and go back to work. As her family, we were uneducated about colon polyps and what they could turn into if not taken care of right away. In the mist of all these health issues, she became pregnant with her last son Zack.

Her doctor stated that she could terminate the pregnancy and have surgery or wait until the baby is born and have surgery. My sister kept the baby, and when the baby arrived, doctors told her the polyps became cancerous and spread to her liver. They gave her one year to live. I would often ask myself, "Why is this taking my sisters life?"

My sister suffered for 16 months and sadly went home on Jan. 10, 2001.

In 2008, my younger sister Jessica, my older brother, and myself had a colonoscopy performed on the same day. My brother and I did not have anything, but Jessica (who lost her seven-year-old son from a brain tumor) found out she had polyps and needed her colon removed.

In 2010, my mom passed away from colon cancer. In 2016, my nephew (April's son Austin) had to get his colon removed as well. In July of 2016, my younger sister had her kids got screened and two of them had polyps at ages 9 and 15.

This is a small part of a big story that could have had a happy ending if we'd been better informed about colon cancer. Stay strong, you are not alone in this fight.

Devan's Advice

You might feel like you are not sick and want to skip your appointment or not have the surgery, because you're "too young to have a colostomy bag" "what will people think' or "no one will want me like this." Let me just tell you that my sister April  would always tell me that she would give anything just to go back on time and have the surgery when she was given the chance to.

It does not matter what age you are, get screened.


If you’ve been impacted by colorectal cancer, join One Million Strong by sharing your story! And, get involved! Get behind a cure!