After five years on staff, Sharyn Worrall, Senior Manager of Patient Education, is leaving Fight CRC. But that doesn’t mean she is leaving advocacy behind! Read her farewell letter below to see how much you’ve inspired her during her time on staff.
I’m a casual runner. My grandfather, who passed away in 2014, was a runner too. Each time he ran a race, he dedicated his runs to someone by wearing a shirt with their name on it. While I’ve never run a full marathon myself, I have always been inspired by this small act of love, and since 2014 I’ve dedicated my runs to various people.
In 2016 I realized how much Fight CRC meant to me. Not because I had spent a year with the organization, but because I found myself more and more often dedicating runs to people I had met who were in the throes of their colorectal cancer experience. I began to fight for you.
Back to the Beginning
On August 3, 2015, I landed my first official job in the public health field – I was hired to work part-time alongside a small team of enthusiastic employees at Fight Colorectal Cancer. I had heard of colon and rectal cancers, but my education on this topic was limited, and none of my family had experienced a CRC diagnosis–but that quickly changed. When I left Andrea (Andi) Dwyer’s office at the University of Colorado School of Public Health after accepting the new position, I was carrying a 10-pound binder of all things colorectal cancer.
Finding Inspiration – From You
I dove into the work, a bit tentatively at first, as I was learning a new language – the language of cancer. But the more I read, the more I realized the importance of raising awareness of CRC. I was driven to work hard to see screening rates increase, and I was angered over the policy that billed for the removal of a polyp during a screening colonoscopy. I was also in shock that the rates of CRC were rising in those under age 50 and appalled at the racial disparities both in the healthcare system as a whole and in the rate of colorectal cancer diagnoses.
I became heartbroken over the deaths of so many wonderful, powerful CRC community members. However, the more time I spent working as part of the Fight CRC team, the more inspired I became that collectively, with the help of partners, advocates, survivors, and patients, we could make changes to the CRC landscape. We could provide education, be leaders in policy changes, and support treatment advancements through research. This inspiration didn’t all come from that 10-pound binder of information, but much of this inspiration came directly from you – from relentless patients, survivors, and loved ones experiencing colorectal cancer.
Keep on Keeping on!
I’ve had many great experiences with Fight CRC. From attending Call-on Congress, Research Advocacy Training and Support (RATS) events, Ambassador Trainings, and research conferences like ASCO. Helping bring the Fight CRC Resource Library to fruition is one of my greatest professional endeavors! But as a somewhat quiet and behind the scenes kind of gal, it’s the small conversations with advocates that really kept me fired up. So keep doing that! Keep telling people what you’re going through – the challenges, the successes, and everything in between, because your stories matter and you never know when the ears your stories fall upon can catapult the change. Nobody should have to fight this disease alone – and the way that you all step up for one another all of the time is beautiful. I will continue to fight for you, and to send good energy your way – because as I see it, energy flows through us and around us and between us all the time.
To the advocates, thank you for sharing your stories and for entrusting me with your experiences so we could share the patient perspective. To the staff, past and present, thank you for being you and for making this organization what it is. To the patient education and research team, you ladies are simply the greatest to work alongside and I will miss the long brainstorming sessions and short check-ins.
And to anyone else, reading this: talk to your doctor about getting screened!