Joe Kastura: Advocate passionately, inspire consistently

People are inspired to advocate for a variety of reasons. From policy initiatives to a cause close to home, the motivation to advocate passionately can lead to a lifetime of inspiration and change.  

Six years ago Joe Kastura learned that his sister, April McDonald, was diagnosed with stage 3b colorectal cancer at the age of 43. He was shocked. “When she first told me she had cancer the first thing that came to my mind was breast cancer,” he said. “I was taken back a little bit because I didn’t know anything about colorectal cancer. I didn’t really understand what that cancer was.”

Joe and April were always very close. They lived a mile apart almost their entire lives and connected daily via text or phone calls. “Next to my wife, she was my best friend.”

When April was diagnosed, her relationship with her brother grew even closer. “I became involved and really learned as much as I could.  Just watching my sister go through it inspired me to become engaged.”

The same year April was diagnosed, Joe learned about a local colorectal cancer awareness event, ScopeItOut 5K, now called Undy RunWalk in Detroit. He created a team for his sister, “Team Cookie” and all of their friends and family came out for the big event. With photography being a hobby for Joe, he was the designated volunteer photographer and continues to be to this day. The excitement and momentum for the event continued on for many ScopeItOut events. For the first couple years “Team Cookie” was the largest team with the largest amount raised. They’re currently running a 50+ team every year.

Joe’s willingness to advocate on behalf of his sister didn’t stop with ScopeItOut. He created a “Team Cookie” Facebook page for April as an avenue for her friends and family to stay in communication with her. “She didn’t have to send daily updates to hundreds of people. She didn’t have to repeat herself 100 times, 200 times, with the same message, especially when it wasn’t a positive message.” That group is still active today. April passed away in February of 2018. Up until the last month and a half she was posting updates to friends and family. She was committed to staying involved and advocating to the community.

April was a huge advocate with many colorectal cancer support groups. She called on congress, attended several conferences, and talked to anyone freely about her diagnosis. “She was a fighter. She fought to the last couple weeks of her life. She fought to the end. That led me to be proactive too.”

Joe turns 46 next week and he’s had 2 colonoscopies since his sister was diagnosed. “When I was younger I was not exposed to cancer. I could never see myself as someone who would fight the fight for better words. But I see myself being involved with the Alliance forever. Cancer took somebody from my family- my best friend. I see myself being completely involved somehow and some way, always.”

To learn more about being an advocate call our national hotline at 1-877-422-2030. Learn more about upcoming awareness events here. In March, we observe National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Join us as we build our nation of passionate allies, fiercely determined to end this disease within our lifetime.

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