In June 2014, Kristin, a wife and mother of four, was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Within months, Kristin passed away from the disease at the age of 34. In 2015, Kristin’s family and friends created Team Kristin in her honor, and went on to participate in the Scope It Out 5K Run/Walk in Pittsburgh! In its first year, Team Kristin raised $7,000 for colon cancer research and awareness. This year, the team raised over $6,000. Team Kristin’s goal is to one day find a cure for colon cancer in order to make sure no other family has to experience loss like their family has.
The Colon Cancer Alliance wanted to find a way to remember and honor Kristin, as well as recognize her family and Team Kristin for all they have endured and the work they do today. We were able to do this by renaming our top fundraiser award after her. Going forward, the team that places first for fundraising at the Pittsburgh event will receive the award in her name.
We got the chance to talk to Kristin’s husband, Manson, and he opened up to us about Kristin’s story and how it has impacted his family.
Can you share a little bit about your story?
Kristin and I had been married for 10 years. We had 4 kids (8,6,4,1 at that time). Kristin was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in June of 2014 at the young age of 34. We had started treatments in July 2014 and things seemed to be progressing well. She had gone through a few rounds of treatments and things were tough, but we persevered. In October of 2014, Kristin’s colon perforated and she had to be rushed to the ER. She stayed in the hospital for about a month where she ultimately passed away, just 5 months after being diagnosed. To Kristin, our family was the most important thing, we worked hard so that she could be a stay at home mom to be there for the kids. I have been blessed that my employer has allowed me to work from home to be able to continue to care for my children as Kristin did. It has been a tough adjustment for all of us, but being involved with the Colon Cancer Alliance has given us hope to one day be able to prevent these events from happening to another young family.
How'd you find the Scope It Out Race? What has been your best experience in participating and being involved with the race?
Shortly after Kristin’s diagnosis, I did some research online to try and learn more about colon cancer. I found the Scope it Out 5K race. Kristin and I had talked about starting to run and one day complete a marathon. We thought this would be a great opportunity to not only start running, but also contribute to the research/awareness of colon cancer. Unfortunately as the event got closer, Kristin started to feel weaker and was unable to participate. We had decided to postpone and try again next year. She passed away a few months later. As the following year approached (2015), I felt the strong urge to not only participate in the event, but create a team in her memory/honor. I had not anticipated the success that I achieved, I only thought I would get about 10 people and raise $500… turned out that year we recruited 65 people to run and raised over $7000. In the 2 years since we have raised over $13000. The best experience in being a part of this is having my kids being involved in this. Having them see all the people that have taken their time/money to support us all in the name of their mother. To have them see how many people’s lives their mother touched. To know that they are doing something to help future colon cancer patients have a better chance of beating this disease… knowing that we are all making a difference, no matter how big or small.
When things have gotten tough, what has helped you keep going? What advice would you give other families struggling out there?
In all honestly, you would think that being the adult, I am the one that has kept myself and my family going. When things have gotten tough, it has been my kids that have kept me going. Kristin had always wanted to be a mother and the kids were the most important things to her. So when things have gotten tough, I remind myself that I need to do this for the kids and they need me, so there is no chance for quitting. Other things that have kept me going is being involved with colon cancer awareness. It gives me and the kids an extra reason to fight. We’ve been there and we want to make sure we help others that were/are in our situation. My advice is to stay strong, have faith, and get involved… it really helps to keep you focused.
We get asked a lot by parents how to talk to kids about cancer. Do you have any recommendations?
My kids are still relatively young. I have spoken to my older 2 kids about cancer, but not in too much detail. They ask questions and I answer them but I don’t think they are at the age where they can really understand. Being involved so much with CCA has given them some more exposure and probably answered a lot of their questions so I would recommend getting them involved so that maybe they get some answers to questions they don’t even ask. It was much more difficult to talk to them about their mother’s passing.
Why is fundraising important? What have you found to be the most helpful in getting people to get involved?
Fundraising is very important. It raises money to help with the research of trying to cure this disease, it pays for programs to help bring awareness, and also pays for programs to support families in need. I have been blessed to be surrounded by great people that want to be involved and support me. In life, if you surround yourself with great people, then great things will happen.
Anything else you'd like to share?
This November will be 2 years since Kristin passed. The days have not gotten easier, but we’ve learned to adapt and persevere. Being involved has given us renewed strength and having the Scope It Out Pittsburgh Top Team Fundraising award named after Kristin is a great honor and something we’d like to thank everyone at CCA/Scope It Out for doing. We will continue the fight until this disease is no more.
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help.