Jocelyn Rodriguez was left searching for answers and support when her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006. So she did what most people do: turned to the Internet to find out what her mother’s options were. That’s where she discovered how preventable colon cancer is with proper screening and how treatable it is when caught early. With a new mission to spread awareness, Jocelyn connected with the Colon Cancer Alliance. She was determined to bring our Undy 5000 5K Run/Walk to the Tampa area to get the word out about this silent killer. Her persistence paid off, and in 2013 Tampa hosted its first Undy 5000.
“The Undy 5000 was my way of not letting cancer win. No matter what happened – treatment, doctor visits, stress– I knew that if I could just keep one person from having to go through what me and my mom were, that it would all be worth it,” says Jocelyn.
In Tampa, colon cancer has had a bigger impact than some may realize; there were 1,144 diagnoses and 448 colon cancer deaths in 2013. Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it is still the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. More than 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014, and more than 50,000 will die from this disease.
Today, Jocelyn’s mom is doing well and staying healthy thanks to support from her friends, family and our Patient Support services, like our free Helpline and Buddy Program.
“Every dollar raised and every person who crosses the finish line at the Tampa Undy 5000 makes an impact in the fight against colon cancer, and this event wouldn’t be here without Jocelyn’s bright spirit and determination,” said Todd Setter, National Director of the Undy 5000 Series.
This year’s Tampa Undy 5000 was last weekend on February 8th. The event supports both local and national efforts. Locally, funds will support the University of South Florida BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic, a student-run, free clinic serving medically underinsured Tampa residents with free colonoscopies. Funds also support our national prevention, research and patient support initiatives, like the services Jocelyn and her mom leaned on after receiving their diagnosis.
Fun fact: Our Helpline has provided compassionate and knowledgeable assistance to 30,000+ callers in the past three years and we've got more than 300 Buddies involved in our Buddy Program providing stellar peer-to-peer support.
For more information about the Undy 5000 or to register for an event, visit www.undy5000.org.