Sonja Darrel is a 28-year-old mother and wife who loves spending time with her family. She has always been active and healthy, so when she started having consistent stomach pains and abdominal discomfort, she knew something had to be wrong.
After coping with symptoms for over a year, Sonja finally decided to take her health into her hands and scheduled an appointment with her doctor. She shared her symptoms and was sent for a colonoscopy. It was then, at 26 years old, Sonja was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that had spread to her liver and more than ten lymph nodes – a devastating diagnosis for anyone, especially someone so young and full of life.
“When I was diagnosed, my daughter was six years old,” Sonja said. “I could only picture her growing up without her mom and that broke my heart. I pictured all of the major events in her life that I was so looking forward to being a part of, being done without me.” Suddenly her days filled with playing with her young daughter became overtaken by chemotherapy ports, surgeries and follow up appointments.
Looking for information and support, Sonja connected with the Colon Cancer Alliance. After learning about the Undy Run/Walk, Sonja researched the event and realized it was headed to her area for the first time. “It felt like fate,” she said. “If you are a patient, survivor or have lost a loved one to colon cancer, the Undy helps you feel like you’re not alone, and it came at a perfect time to support me and my family.”
In Sonja's hometown of Winston-Salem, colon cancer has made a bigger impact than some may think; there have been 141 diagnoses and 58 colon cancer deaths this year alone. 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.
“I think seeing the faces of people who have suffered from colon cancer makes it more real for others,” says Sonja. “Colon cancer is so treatable when caught early, and by getting the word out through events like the Undy, hopefully we can proactively prevent our family, friends and neighbors from feeling the pain of losing someone to this disease.”
For more information about the Undy Run/Walk and to register, visit www.undyrunwalk.org. And be sure to follow the Never Too Young conversation through the #never2young hashtag and at www.nevertooyoung.org.
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have questions or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help!