Still a young newlywed when she started experiencing symptoms, Kendra Mitchell finally saw a doctor after admitting she was having issues to her husband. Thanks to his encouragement, they were able to catch her cancer early and she has been NED since 2014. Since her diagnosis, she has gone all-in for the upcoming Denver Undy Run/Walk as one of our rockstar volunteer Undy Engagement Committee members. She shared her story with us as well as why she's excited for the race in June.
What's your connection to colon cancer?
I'm a stage I survivor, NED since 2014.
After just getting married and moving to Denver, I started having symptoms. I ignored my body for about nine months, never talking with anyone about what was going on!
In the fall of 2014, at age 34, I finally told my husband and got to the doctor, thanks to him! I was diagnosed with stage I and had to have my sigmoid colon removed. My docs also found two small tumors/masses near my spinal column fluid and I had surgery to remove those as well. Because I found everything early I did not have to undergo chemo or radiation treatments, and after three surgeries and lots of PT I was able to get back to "normal."
How did you find out about the Colon Cancer Alliance and the Denver Undy Run/Walk?
My friend Maurine from Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers (where my oncologist is) suggested I join the Undy Engagement Committee when I reached out to her and asked how I could volunteer! I thank her everyday for that!!
What makes the Undy Run/Walk different from other races?
This will be my first year so I'm not sure, but I can say that I've been forever changed by having these committee members in my life, and if the Undy has even half of the energy and love I see in our group....it will be better than any other race in Denver!!!!
What's been your favorite moment as a colon cancer advocate? What gives you hope when times get tough?
CancerCon (a conference for young-adults with cancer) was amazing! Meeting so many survivors and fighters reminds me everyday how beautiful people can be and how we HAVE to work hard to eradicate this stupid cancer!!!
What's your #1 piece of advice to someone newly diagnosed?
Surround yourself with the ones that love you and it's OK to be scared! Just don't give up!
What's the #1 reason people should come out in June to the Denver Undy?
Come meet the amazing volunteers and enjoy a beautiful Saturday in Denver! More and more young people are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer and still so many don't know how or why/when to get screened!
What better way to learn about fighting colorectal cancer than running in your undies?!! I ask you!
Anything else you'd like the world to know about colon cancer, your story or the race?
As a survivor, I thought my recovery was over when my docs cleared me physically to "get back to life," but being a part of the Colon Cancer Alliance's Denver Undy Run/Walk team has helped me to realize my mental recovery is just as important! The people I've met have quickly become so important to me and I just hope that young people out there won't ignore their bodies!
Life is too short as it is and we should all be more aware of how to best protect our health!