SPRINGFIELD, MO. – Fighting Colorectal Cancer is engaged in raising awareness, supporting research and changing policy. In the next couple of weeks, its headquarters will be moving from Washington, D.C. to an office space in the historic Woolworth building in downtown Springfield bringing with it hope and a support system to patients and their families in the Ozarks.
“I remember just feeling alone,” said Kristina Smith, who’s now a volunteer with the organization. “There was nobody else that was 24 years old, expecting a baby and the happiest time of their life, that was also experiencing this.”
Kristina Smith’s husband was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer when she was 7 months pregnant. This October marks two years since she’s lost him.
“And just recently, probably in the last three to four months, have I felt even strong enough to want to fight back,” Smith said.
And now she is speaking up, helping others as a volunteer with fighting colorectal cancer.
“Nothing is ever going to be fixed and no cure is ever going to be found by being silent,” she said. “So, just being one small voice and a really loud voice, that’s what it takes, a lot of small voices that we can become a loud voice to win this battle.”
The non-profit organization is moving from D.C. to Springfield, to be in a central location and reduce overall costs.
“That cost is deferred to patients, so we are able to better serve patients and bulk up our programs,” said Anjee Davis president of Fight CRC.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., but still a topic most are not comfortable with.
“Colon cancer still has a quite a bit of taboo related to it, I think that’s unique to colon cancer survivors,” said Davis. “So we wear our bracelets, [they say] ‘I heart booty’. “
But one conversation with a doctor and one screening can save lives.
“It’s important that people are comfortable with talking about their bowel movements, their booty, with family members because those are factors that can literally save your life,” Davis said.
For Smith, having such an organization close to home is a reminder of hope.
“And not just the financial and medical resources, but the support – that there are families, friends, and survivors that are there to support and fight this disease with them,” she said.
Fighting CRC is holding a “Sparks of Strength” event on Sept. 9 at the Square to remember those lost and honor survivors. Everyone is invited.