“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 simply 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.
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.
My award winning 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 in 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, in 2017 in Eric’s memory.
To learn more about my husband’s life, read his Memorial Article in the West Point AOG’s 2017 Edition of TAPS Magazine.