“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.”
– Mik Everett
Eric DeJong was a beloved husband, father, son, brother and veteran. He lost his vibrant, beautiful life on September 29th, 2016 to metastatic Colon Cancer at the age of 47, leaving behind our 21 plus year relationship and 2 young adult daughters. He was never screened for Colon Cancer because he was “too young” for a colonoscopy. 10% of people diagnosed with Colon Cancer are under the age of 50, the medically approved screening age. When it is diagnosed in people under 50, it is usually found in advanced stages because it does not present symptoms until it has metastasized. Currently, 10% of the Colon Cancer population is collateral damage in this broken system and this cancer is consistently on the rise in younger people in recent years.
Stage III Colon Cancer has a 70% survival rate past 5 years with treatment. Stage IV Colon Cancer has a 5% survival rate past 5 years. In other words, Stage IV Colon Cancer is a terminal diagnosis – or more accurately put – a death sentence. The difference in survival rates between these two stages is staggering. Stage I and Stage II are completely curable. Something needs to be done about the protocols of screening people under 50.
Until something is done, however, pay attention to your body, talk to your family members about their histories of colon related issues, and request to be screened early. My husband did not have to die.
Added – The American Cancer Society has recently lowered the screening age to 45. This is 3 years too late for Eric, but it is progress.
My debut novel, Scout’s Honor, was used to raise more than $4,000 for Colon Cancer research at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during 2016, in Eric’s honor and then more than $2,000 for the Gary Sinise Foundation’s RISE program, providing adaptable smart homes for severely wounded veterans, during 2017, in Eric’s memory.
Eric did not want his legacy to be “the Colon Cancer Guy,” so if you would like to support charities in his memory, organizations that represent who he was and the life he led, please consider donating in his memory to the following:
The Gary Sinise Foundation RISE program – Eric was a veteran and he believed in helping vets. This Foundation provides smart adaptable homes to severely wounded veterans. One of these amazing homes was built in our neighborhood, and a brick in Eric’s memory rests under the flagpole.
The United States Military Academy at West Point – As a USMA grad, Eric fully supported this institution. These funds provide programs and education to cadets and military families serving at West Point.
The First Tee – Eric was a 4 handicap golfer. He was a devout student of the game and how it challenged him mentally. He was a walking member of the USGA and an active member of Chapel Ridge Golf Club. This program provides educational programs to youth that build character, through the game of golf.
Dachshund Rescue of North America – Eric loved dachshunds. His first one was named General Eisenhower. After General passed away in 2007, Eric was at the doxie farm looking to get two puppies. Soon after, we had Stretch & Slinky. He would want these homeless little guys to be cared for and have good homes like his three had/have.
Read my Eulogy from my husband’s Memorial Service. It is published through my author blog.
To learn more about my husband’s life, a life of impeccable integrity, read his Memorial Article in the West Point AOG’s 2017 Edition of TAPS Magazine.
His obituary is available online through the Donaldson Funeral Home in Pittsboro. There is an additional slide show, compiled by Donaldson, at the end of the obituary.
Below is 47 years of a beautiful life, cut way short, all stuffed into a 10 minute slide show. This video was shown at Eric’s Memorial Service on October 5th, 2016.
Be thou at peace