Justin Hughes: I was incredibly lucky

Two weeks ago, colon cancer survivor Justin Hughes played 18 holes with champion golfer Tom Lehman. It happened during the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona.

With the help of Nick, a best friend turned caddiewho is an “amazing golfer”Justin says he played really well.

“I don’t know how or why, but the golf gods were watching over me,” he says. “That’s probably the coolest experience I’ve had as a result of colon cancer.”

Cologuard is an at-home screening test for colorectal cancer. The company paired survivors with golf pros for a relaxing day on the green. Justin’s journey to the Omni golf course, however, was anything but tranquil.

Four years ago, at just 34 years old, doctors diagnosed Justin with stage IIIc colon cancer.

“It was an absolute and total shock,” he says.

Fortunately, Justin had been paying attention to his body. He noticed light traces of blood in his stool. Over six months, he started to notice more blood and his bowel habits changed.

“It wasn’t something where you instantly think something is really wrongit was really subtle,” Justin says. “I just thought, there is something off.”

Initially, his doctor thought it was hemorrhoids. Justin agreed.

“Because why would you even say that wordcancer?” he says. “The doctor said, ‘You don’t have to worry about thatyou’re too young.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, duh, I know.”

But as the symptoms grew more apparent, Justin swung for a screening test.

“I went back and said this is still kind of happening,” he says. “Knowing what I know now, I was incredibly lucky because I think it could have gotten worse in a short time.”

Justin’s diagnosis is part of a startling trend affecting adults under age 50. Since 1994, cases of young-onset colorectal cancer have increased by 51%, according to the National Cancer Institute. Researchers aren’t sure why.

Justin underwent a whirlwind of treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery to remove the tumor. An ileostomy. Six months more of chemotherapy. And then an ileostomy reversalall in a year.

Since being declared NEDno evidence of diseaseJustin has begun advocating for colorectal cancer awareness.

“I said, ‘When I’m done with all this, and my life is back together, I need to get involved.”

Justin joined the Undy RunWalk Planning Committee in Phoenix. The Undy is a series of run-walks that raise awareness and funds for the Alliance’s mission in 22 cities across the country.

He participates with his family as team “Hughes and the Underoos.”

Justin says colorectal cancer awareness is critical, especially due to the preventable nature of the disease. Ninety percent of cases are curable when caught early.

“We’re really lucky you can go inside a colon, get checked out, and find cancer,” he says. “You’re not that lucky when it comes to prostate, or liver, or anything where it’s hard to get in and take a look. Colon cancer is so easily detectable.”

Justin is the father of two children, who are now 7 and 10 years old. For those with a family history of the disease, doctors recommend screenings at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in a person’s immediate family. That means his children will be required to get a screening around the time they start their first jobs.

“They’ll be super pissed at me,” Justin says.

But at least their dad can keep up with golf pros. That’s cool.

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.

Christy Fry: Celebrating health with service

The day after Christy Fry was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, she turned on her television to see hundreds of people running in their underwear. It was March 27, 2010.

Media were reporting on the St. Louis Undy RunWalk, then called the Undy 5000, an annual 5K event hosted by the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to raise funds and awareness for prevention, research, and patient and family support.

“I really felt like I had an immediate connection,” Christy says. “I’ve had a team every year since 2011.”

Fry was diagnosed with rectal cancer after she noticed a change in her bowel movements. She thought it might have something to do with a change in diet over the holiday season. But a prescient conversation with a nurse prompted her to monitor the issue. She decided to follow up with her physician, who conducted a rectal exam. The results were normal. To be certain, her physician recommended a colonoscopy.

The colonoscopy revealed two tumors located in her rectum. She was immediately given a CT scan and urged to find a good colorectal surgeon.

“I never had a chance to fully process it before telling my mother,” Christy says. Her mother was in the room with when she received the news of her diagnosis. “After my CT scan, I asked for a moment alone and I just sat down on the floor and cried.”

Following her diagnosis, Christy underwent a combination of chemotherapy and radiation as well as surgery.

“We were able to save my rectum, so I didn’t have to have a permanent ostomy,” Christy says. “A few years later, they found three tumors in my lungs. After a combination of radiation and surgery, I’m doing good now.”

This past February, Christy reached the five-year anniversary of her last chemo treatment. Since then, Christy has retired from a career in hospitality and has dedicated her life to serving others and spreading awareness about colorectal cancer.

“I’m always looking for more ways to connect with people,” Christy says. “I set aside some money and this allowed me to retire at 51. I’ve started a cancer ministry at my church and I’m also a Buddy with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.”

The Buddy program is a mentor program for colorectal cancer survivors to connect with other survivors who’ve had similar experiences and diagnoses. Christy will also be at the 2018 St. Louis Undy RunWalk on March 24 with her team, “Christy’s Cool Cohorts.”

“What’s nice about the Undy is it gives me an opportunity to not only raise awareness in a fun way, but it’s also a way for me and my family to celebrate that I’m here and I’m healthy,” Christy says.

The family-friendly 5K event typically draws more than 1,000 colorectal cancer survivors and their supporters. Participants wear fun, underwear themed outfits and even walk through a gigantic, inflatable colon.

Funds raised at the St. Louis Undy will support the Mercy Hospital St. Louis JFK Clinic’s work in the community to help the underserved access much-needed colorectal cancer screenings.

“[The Undy] is a celebration, and it also brings awareness so that other people do not have to go through this,” Christy says.

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.

Colon Cancer Alliance Announces Corporate Name Change

National Non-Profit Begins A New Chapter Revealing New Name, New Logo, & Inclusive Mission

November 2, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) –  Effective immediately, the Colon Cancer Alliance is now the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, embracing the entire colorectal cancer community, adopting a new name, and committing to a powerful mission: To empower a nation of allies who work with us to provide support for patients and families, caregivers, and survivors; to raise awareness of preventative measures; and inspire efforts to fund critical research. The official rebrand brings an inclusive identity that ensures accuracy, leadership, and most important- alliance within the colorectal cancer community.

The Launch of a Nation of Allies – The name change is part of a larger rebranding effort for the organization which includes a new logo and visual identity, new website, and commitment to accuracy for the entire colorectal cancer community.

With the strategic mission of servicing both colon and rectal cancer patients, combined with fierce determination to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance set three ambitious goals:  

  • Double the number of patients served by 2021
  • Save 100,000 lives with preventive screening in the next 10 years
  • Invest $10 million in critical research

The organization launched a national network for advocates and allies to show their support in eliminating colorectal cancer within our lifetime and highlight ways individuals can educate their local communities on prevention and screening options. The focus of the “Nation of Allies” theme is to empower individuals to work with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to provide support to patients and families, survivors, and caregivers, to raise awareness of preventative measures, and to inspire efforts to fund critical research.

“On behalf of the entire Colorectal Cancer Alliance community, we are beyond thrilled to be launching this new name, logo and visual identity to help continue to grow as the leading resource for patients and families,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.  The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is the oldest, largest colorectal cancer non-profit in the nation and I am proud to part of this amazing evolution” Michael Sapienza, CEO, Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

Nearly a third of all colorectal cancers diagnosed this year will be rectal cancer. Nearly 40,000 new U.S. cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2017 alone. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have a lot in common—including symptoms—but they are different, depending on where they originate. Through this rebrand, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance has extended its reach into the colorectal cancer community by 30% while committing to align a nation of allies, together in the mission to end this disease.

“We share a common goal of eradicating colorectal cancer through prevention and early detection,” said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences and long time national partner of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. “As this new chapter begins for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, we are committed to working together to increase awareness about the importance of getting screened for this preventable disease.”

The name change and brand reveal debuted alongside the 2017 Tomorrow Can’t Wait National Conference at the Cleveland Clinic on November 1st. Conference attendees consisting of patients, survivors, and caregivers, had front row seats and true VIP access at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for the official kick-off. The nonprofit decided on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from so many requests from cancer patients attending the conference. You can visit the Facebook live rebrand announcement at

“To be surrounded by patients and families at such a historic event, celebrating new beginnings and amazing accomplishments is truly one of the most important nights of my life. We are grateful to this nation of allies supporting our vision: A world free of colorectal cancer within our lifetime” Michael Sapienza, CEO.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance worked with Alexandria, VA based creative agency Grafik on the new identity and overall rebranding efforts.

To learn more about the rebrand and Colorectal Cancer Alliance, visit


About the Colorectal Cancer Alliance

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is a national nonprofit committed to ending colorectal cancer. Working with our nation of passionate allies, we diligently support the needs of patients and families, caregivers, and survivors, eagerly raise awareness of preventative screening, and continually strive to fund critical research. As allies in the struggle, we are fiercely determined to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. For more information, visit