Jake Lyons was only 27 when he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Through it all, Jake never lost his excitement for life, love for his family, friends and coworkers or his passion to help others. This passion led to Jake’s involvement with the Colon Cancer Alliance—from volunteering to participating and speaking at our Undy Run/Walk, he was committed to finding a cure.
In Jake’s memory, his family continues to spread awareness and work tirelessly for a world where no one is affected by colon cancer. That’s why we’re honored to spotlight the Lyons Family as our Hero of the Month for all of their efforts, including founding the Annual Jake Lyons Memorial “Cancer Sucks” Golf Classic and contributing to this year’s Blue Hope Research Award to help fund under 50 research. Jake’s mother Cheryl Lyons tells us more about her son, his journey and his legacy.
Can you share a little of Jake's story?
September 20, 2010: the beginning of the worst week in the life of our family. Our 27-year-old son Jake went in for a non-routine colonoscopy. It was non-routine because of his age, but he needed it because of persistent symptoms. After additional scans, a liver biopsy and port placement (all in the span of four very long days), Jake began the grueling process of trying to beat his stage IV metastatic colon cancer diagnosis. His fight involved a variety of chemotherapy regimens, changing protocol as each successive treatment worked and then eventually failed. Jake continued to work through all of this, often traveling more than 200 miles a day for his job with Olympus. He coached his son’s t-ball and soccer teams until he could no longer stand up on the field because of the pain. During each of his chemo sessions, he did everything he could to lift up and encourage others battling alongside him.
How have you been involved in the colon cancer space? Why did you decide to get so involved and why is it important to you?
As a family, we have always been involved in working with and contributing to philanthropic organizations, such as the Athens Area Cancer Auxiliary and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. When Jake was first diagnosed, we decided we not only needed to help him, but we also needed to help others battling cancer. In 2011, we held the First Annual Jake Lyons “Cancer Sucks” Golf Classic and, combined with donations from friends and family, raised more than $20,000 for Relay for Life.
In 2012, we focused our attention on colon cancer—raising money and fielding a team of almost 50 runners and walkers at the Colon Cancer Alliance’s Undy Run/Walk in Washington D.C. and Atlanta. In 2014, after Jake lost his battle, his friends and family were determined to continue Jake’s involvement in furthering the push for a cure—we raised close to $28,000 at the First Annual Jake Lyons Memorial “Cancer Sucks” Golf Classic. We plan to continue our involvement because, if he were still with us, that is what Jake would be doing: working to help others who need assistance and encouragement, someone to talk to and a place to learn more about their options. That’s what the Colon Cancer Alliance meant to him and why we continue our work.
How did colon cancer research affect Jake's journey?
The continuing advances in colon cancer research gave Jake hope in his fight. Every time one of his protocols no longer worked, he knew there was something else on the horizon—something that could possibly buy him one more day with his wife and his son Aiden.
What does it mean to your family to be able to help fund the Blue Hope Research Award in such a big way?
To help fund a portion of the young-onset colon cancer Blue Hope Research Award means Jake’s journey was not in vain. If his journey, his legacy, could one day lead to a cure for colon cancer, there would simply be no words for what that means to the Lyons family.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your family?
We could not have done any of this without the care and dedication of everyone involved in Jake’s journey: the healthcare professionals at Georgia Cancer Specialists; everyone involved with the Colon Cancer Alliance; our family, friends and all those prayer warriors out there who kept Jake in their daily prayers until the end; and all of Jake’s colleagues at Olympus America who supported him throughout.
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.