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Ashley and Dawn’s Stories

Making a Difference in the Windy City

Both from the Chicago area, Ashley and Dawn share a connection that no one wants to have: the loss of a sister due to stage IV colorectal cancer.  

Ashley (left) with her sister Dominique

Ashley’s sister, Dominique, was starting a new chapter of life in 2020: she had recently gotten married, just had a baby, and moved into a new home. But Dominique began experiencing frightening symptoms and at age 34, she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. 

She died in September 2022.

Dawn (left) with her sister Jean

Dawn’s story tragically echoes Ashley’s story. Dawn was only 14 years old when she and her sister, Jean, lost their father to colorectal cancer. After her own colorectal cancer scare, Dawn encouraged her sister to get screened. But Jean’s doctor refused because of her young age. A few years later, Jean was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and died at the age of 39.

For each of them, losing their sisters galvanized their involvement in the Alliance. Ashley participates in local outreach initiatives for the Alliance, and pitches Blue HQ, a unique, centralized care platform for colorectal cancer patients and caregivers, to secure partnerships and encourage registrations. She also serves on the Never Too Young Advisory Board

Dawn began volunteering at a local outreach event in Chicago and then also joined the Alliance’s Never Too Young Advisory Board. Now, Dawn is leading the charge as host for the 2nd Annual Blue Hope Bash Chicago taking place shortly on May 11.

Their involvement brings much needed attention and support to colorectal cancer in Chicagoland. Your investment has allowed both Ashley and Dawn to honor their sisters’ memories and – through their volunteer work – help ensure other families avoid the heartache and loss they each experienced.

Brianna and Natalie’s Story

Walking to End Colorectal Cancer

Brianna Mercker (pictured in the middle beside Alliance staff member Chelsea Edwards) and Natalie Phelps (pictured left) met at the Alliance’s 2020 virtual volunteer conference, AllyCon, and bonded over their journeys as young mothers diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. Brianna has 7 year-old twins and Natalie has a three-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. 

As a volunteer, Brianna committed herself to create and chair the inaugural Seattle Walk to End Colon Cancer in 2022. After meeting Natalie, she enlisted her for the Walk Committee. Together, they recruited sponsors for the event, each created their own Walk teams with more than 100 participants, and helped raise more than $115,000. Now they are preparing for the next Seattle Walk as co-chairs, slated for October 7.

Through their shared journeys and your generosity, Natalie and Brianna have not only developed a great friendship but are also raising awareness for colorectal cancer. Because of your support, they are building a legacy through their hard work on the Seattle Walk to End Colon Cancer.

2022 Volunteer Statistics




Hours Worked


Never Too Young Advisory Board Members

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