Five Years

~By Diana Sloan

For cancer patients, the five-year mark can mean different things. For some, it may be five years since diagnosis. For others, it could be five years without evidence of disease which cuts down the chances of a recurrence dramatically. I hit my five-year mark since diagnosis on December 12th; but, for people like me, it is completely different. I am a stage IV colorectal cancer patient, and I am incurable.

When I found out my staging, I …

Thankful For…

By Kenny Toye

I’m thankful for cancer because it taught me how to use everything I have to survive.

Sitting on a fake, deteriorating, peeling leather couch. Trade winds blowing through the 267 square foot apartment. Inhale the potpourri of the neighbors cooking their delicious, greasy breakfast. The sound of the sirens and cars are the soundtrack to this beautiful moment in time where everything is picture perfect.

The previous paragraph isn’t most people’s idea of paradise. Paradise is a …

Another 10

A tumor was removed along with my spleen and part of my pancreas on 12/27/2007. It was the 4th time cancer returned to my body after the initial stage IV diagnosis in 2004. My cancer was always unusual. Instead of spreading to lymph nodes, liver, and lungs which is typical in colorectal cancers, mine went straight to my ovaries. Then it came back in my small intestine, twice, peritoneum covering my bladder and finally my spleen. In 14 years of …

I’m Still Me

– By Diana Sloan


To say everything changes with a cancer diagnosis is the understatement of the century. Of course, there is all the medical stuff, planning normal life around appointments, and just adjusting to feeling sick and worn out. Another aspect that changes dramatically is your relationships. They can be strengthened or fall apart. With people I am really close to, the biggest shift seems to be with what they share with me in their lives.
Let’s face …

Creating Experiences to Last a Lifetime

Guest Blog By Sarah DeBord


On the night I was diagnosed, I came home and nursed my baby boy to sleep through uncontrollable tears. As is the case with most babies, he was obsessively in love with me and I with him. My only thought as I stared down at him was if I would live long enough for him to know how much I loved him. I couldn’t help but wonder if I would die before he and …

Let’s talk about sex……AND cancer.

By Riley Lewis Castro

When most people think of sex, the last thing they think about is cancer. That is not the case for me, or the millions of other people in the world that have had the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on your outlook) ‘honor’ of experiencing this wonderful disease. I have attended many cancer related functions; and, other than cancer, they all have one complaint in common. Sex and the lack of education survivors are given before, during, …

When Did that Even Happen?

By Diana Sloan


When we are fortunate enough to have our parents with us to a ripe old age, we often end up becoming their caretakers. We return the love and care they gave us when we were unable to care for ourselves. We expect and accept that this is the way of things. It may be hard on both parties to admit the roles have changed due to illness or frailty, but we do it. We take care …

The Talk I Never Wanted to Have

By Diana Sloan

When you have incurable cancer and children, the talk about death is inevitable. But, man, do you really try to avoid it. Not because we shouldn’t talk about death with our kids, but because it is a specific discussion about your death. And like any parent, you want to protect your child from all the pain in the world. Especially this pain.
So when my eight year old daughter snuggled up beside me on the couch this …

Fighting the Fight: Through a Caretaker’s Eyes

By Kristina Smith

After my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, had a total colectomy, then being reopened, to allow his abdominal wound to heal from the inside out, body issues were a daily struggle for him. A confident, well-built man in his thirties, he now had an abdominal opening that began under his rib cage to below his belly button. There were also issues of having to use the bathroom seven to nine times a day, the

What They Didn’t Tell Me

By Kristina Smith


Going into becoming a model for the Colon Club, brought me great honor, as I would be one of the first to represent caregivers, after losing my husband to colon cancer, all too young. Although past models, now friends, had shared that this experience was life changing, that’s all they could really say. Questions ensued, presented in rapid fire like an intense interview, but still, the answers remained the same. A distant look off into the

Most Magical Vacation from Hell

After 2 HIPEC surgeries in 2005 & 2006 I had PET scan every 3 months. There was a spot “glowing” on my spleen we watched for over a year. It wasn’t getting bigger but it wasn’t going away. Near the end of 2007 my doctors ordered a biopsy. After the procedure the doctor informed me the mass was fluid filled and most likely not cancer. He was wrong.

Cancer again, surgery #5

A splenectomy was performed 12/27/07, 1 day after …

Colon Cancer Ruined My Kidneys But Didn’t Ruin Me

My first HIPEC surgery Friday on 1/21/2005, lasted 14 hours. I was so close to death my surgeon said I wouldn’t have lived through the weekend without it. During the surgery that saved my life, my right ureter was nicked. That tiny little whole in a tiny little tube would have a catastrophic effect on my quality of life forever. Long story short, that nick cost me my right kidney. For years we tried to save it but by 2013,  …

The day cancer took me from anticipation to devastation — and then we danced

Tom Marsilje and his daughters

“CT scan of the abdomen shows the patient to have multiple bilateral, too numerous to count, liver lesions consistent with widespread liver metastases.”

My jaw dropped as I read the report. My vision blurred. The world before my eyes spun and came to a standstill. Reeling, I fumbled for a bench outside near a sign which proclaimed, “There is Always Hope.”
I had woken up feeling laid-back, looking forward to the father-daughter school dance that …

The single life with cancer.


Hindsight- recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence.

My name is Kenny Toye. November 2012 I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I am blessed to be cancer free at the time of writing.

When the news spread about my diagnosis, I received encouragement and support. It felt good to know that people care. My friends and family wanted to help with anything and everything. As challenging as a …

Single Cancer Survivor

Lauren Miller

“Hello, my name is Lauren. I’m single and a cancer survivor. Want to date me?”

I dread the mere thought of this becoming my name tag in the dating world. But around June 2015, I was looking to get back into the dating game after a recent break up. Most of my previous partners have been guys I met through mutual friends. I knew I didn’t want to meet guys in the bar like I used to in my 20’s …


By Krista Wilson President of The Colon Club


Colossal Idea
Molly (McMaster) Morgoslepov was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer on her 23rd birthday. Feeling broken and alone she set out to and eventually met another young adult survivor – Amanda Sherwood (read their story here: It was through Amanda that Molly met Hannah Vogler and together they founded The Colon Club. Molly and Hannah soon met Erika Kratzer a stage IV survivor diagnosed at 22. They joked about …

March Blue



By Leighann Sturgin

Infusing IV fluids all day and TPN at night I have to pee…quite often. If it’s not my ostomy, it’s my bladder but I feel like I’m running to the bathroom 100 times a day. At night, I frequently dream I’m searching for a bathroom. Sometimes in my dreams I find a toilet, pee but still feel like I have to pee. Sometimes there is something wrong with every toilet I find so I can’t go. …

Colon Camp 2017


Guest Blog by Kenny Toye, Featured Survivor in 2017 Colondar

After my last chemo treatment, the nurse disconnected me from the chemo device that was attached to me every 2 weeks for two days, I thought the world would celebrate with me like I won the Super Bowl, The NBA championship and The Kentucky Derby. I realized quickly that unlike winning a championship, at the conclusion of cancer treatment; there was no trophy presentation, no Gatorade shower, no monetary bonuses, …

Living ‘Skinny-Fat’ and ‘Healthy-Sick’

Staci Wills

Forward by Leighann Sturgin Colon Club Blog Administrator and Colondar 2.0 Staff writer. Featured Survivor in May 2015 Colondar 2.0.

My friends 13 yr old, athletic, daughter, Chloe, is 5’4 3/4″ tall and weighs 98 lbs. My exact dimensions, although, my hips are wider (from carrying and birthing 2 children!) and I have breasts. I said to my husband, “How can we be the same dimensions but look so different? Chloe looks so much skinnier than me.” My husband replied

Starting Young

Anita and daughter

Written by Emily Mitchell (left) daughter of 2007 Colondar survivor Anita Mitchell (right)

As I thought about how to approach my 25-second graders about colon cancer awareness, all I could think about is “I don’t want to scare them” and “can they handle this”. I thought these two things for many reasons. One being that this is a very REAL issue and two being that we are talking about the parts of our body that people seem to avoid like

Family Ties


By Leighann Sturgin

My Lynch Syndrome comes from my Dad’s side of the family. We have the MSH2 gene mutation. My dad has had several polyps removed during colonoscopies over the years and has had several spots of skin cancer. (Both squamous cell and basal cell are related to Lynch.) Two of 6 of my dad’s siblings have had colon cancer in their 30’s. There is more colon cancer in previous generations too. There are 13 grandchildren on my dad’s …



By Leighann Sturgin
I’d like to have One Day Off. One day that I didn’t have to think about the crapsack on my belly. One day I didn’t hear the bag crinkle or my stoma didn’t make weird, loud, embarrassing noises. One day I’m not worried about the crapsack leaking. One day I didn’t need to know where every bathroom along my path was located. I just want one day off from my skin hurting all the time. I believe …

Happy New Year


By Leighann Sturgin

Happy New Year! I’m so thankful to see 2016. The holidays were a little tough for me this year.

On 11/25/15 (the day before Thanksgiving) I had stoma revision surgery. I lost another 12” of small bowel leaving me with a total of 120 cm of intestine. I had a very retracted stoma making it impossible to get a ostomy wafer to seal. The skin around my “innie” stoma looked like hamburger. It hurt…all the time. After …

Perspective on Patience & Life

lauren miller blog

By Lauren Miller

On a recent flight back to Chicago, I had the pleasure of sitting next an 18-year-old male college student. It was an early morning flight, and we boarded the plane in record time. Due to this, our pilot announced we would have an early arrival. The young man said allowed, “Yes! I have a connecting flight and I was worried I’d miss it.” This gave him an immediate sense of relief, and we began talking about what …

Hope, Strength and Inspiration

Lauren Miller

By 2016 Colondar Model Lauren Miller


I recently found out my coworker is having preventive surgery for breast cancer. She is a 5-year

breast cancer survivor and had the genetic testing done. It was confirmed that she has BRCA-1

gene. Because of this, she is also getting a partial hysterectomy in December to remove her

fallopian tubes. She will then get double mastectomy in March. What struck me as surreal was

that she is 52 years old, and came

I’m Stuck


I’m stuck…I’m stuck between a world of cancer and wellness. I’m very grateful to be cancer-free but I’m far from healthy. It’s a lonely place. Sometimes I find myself jealous, even resentful of people who beat cancer and carry on with “normal” life. Then I’m quickly reminded of the many friends who have finished the race and are now resting then I feel guilty. I do not envy my friends who are on chemo indefinitely, or the ones who’ve run …

2016 Colon Camp

2016 colondar-family

By 2016 Colondar Model Phuong Gallagher


Eight years ago today, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Although the cancer itself was not a blessing, some of the things that it brought me absolutely are. It has given me the experience and with it the wisdom to help those that are lost somewhere in the journey through their own diagnosis. It has also taken me through my own journey where I have met precious friends along the way. Too often …

Health Insurance Q&A

By Andrew Elder

After my last post, The Best Defense is Good Insurance, I received an email from a recently diagnosed gentleman (we’ll call him “Mike”) through LinkedIN with several excellent follow-up questions. I replied, but it seemed that his connection in LinkedIN wasn’t working. So to be sure Mike receives my response, and to hopefully answer some questions others of you may have had, I’m including his questions and my answers below.

Bear in mind, I’m giving my …

Call on Congress 2015


One day in 2006, while I was on my way to see my oncologist, the Patient Navigator at my cancer center stopped me in the hall and asked me if I’d be interested in going to Washington, DC to talk to Congress about colon cancer with a group of strangers who call themselves Fight CRC. I pictured someone testifying before ALL of Congress, like you see on C-SPAN. And thoughts of traveling with TPN and all the medical supplies that …

Last Moments with My Best Friend

Belle and Maria

By Maria Williams

I lost my best friend a short time ago. As I sit here re-reading through the e-mail she sent me regarding her final wishes I find something I had either forgotten or suppressed. She asked, with great clarity, that I write about her final experience, her death. This is something Belle and I often spoke of in her final weeks. We discussed how there are detailed accounts, opinions and specifics about all other aspects of life: birth, …

The Last Blog


By Belle Piazza

Over the years on The Colon Club, I have read about knights in shining armor. Husbands whose wives they could not do without. Husbands who meet their every need, every moment of every day. And it angers me because I wasn’t lucky enough to have landed such perfection, but this isn’t a vent blog. One of my rules has always been a blog cannot be just a vent, it has to have a purpose, and I will …

Very terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.


By Belle Piazza

Today was a hard day.  I’ve recently been put on a dilaudid pain pump – so I’m receiving dilaudid 24/7 with a bolus button I can push for break through pain.  It’s taken a little adjustment and I’m not hallucinating as I doze off as much as I used to – but I wouldn’t say I feel 100% normal 100% of the time.  Not surprisingly, I’ve been advised against driving. You always hear about elderly drivers who …

Belle Strong

Belle Strong cropped

By Leighann Sturgin

After a respectful ‘moment’ of blog silence, it’s only fitting this blog entry should be in honor of our beloved Belle. She and I developed a relationship while writing for this blog together over the last 9 months. She was an amazing, honest, genuine, person with an infectious smile and delicious laugh. She didn’t bother with fluff, she knew there was no time for it.

I’d read many of her stories on The Colon Club blog but …

2015 Colondar


Media Alert: Young colon cancer survivors available for interviews during March’s colon cancer awareness

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Feb. 14, 2013 – March is colon cancer awareness month – a time when stories featuring “butts and guts” become appropriate for the nightly newscast. The Colon Club has a database of young colorectal cancer survivors from across the U.S. available for interviews and willing to share their stories. To set up an interview with a nearby colon cancer survivor, please email or call (816) 729-7760.

Why feature colon cancer in young adults?

meaghan-volk-1-colon-cancerTraditionally, colon …

Meet Brian Novak – Mr. January 2013

Meet Brian – a stage III colon cancer survivor, diabetic and world traveler.

Sometimes, facing a life-threatening disease can leave you paralyzed with fear. Although you’re fighting hard to save your life … through treatment and beyond it can be scary to live your life.

Be inspired by Brian as he explains that he doesn’t let his sicknesses or health stop him from living his life. Watch as he talks about some of his amazing life experiences that have come …

The Colon Club Adds Teen Survivor, Healthcare Marketer to Board

WILTON, N.Y. – Jan. 17, 2013 – Advocating colon cancer awareness and colonoscopy screening isn’t an easy job. Luckily, two women with a passion for colon cancer and a background in marketing have joined the Board of Directors of The Colon Club to help. Danielle Ripley-Burgess, colorectal cancer survivor diagnosed in her teens, and Debbie Donovan, healthcare marketing consultant, are the two newest board members to join the non-profit group.

“These two ladies bring a tremendous amount of experience and …

Meet Miss December | Reagan Barnett

You can imagine our surprise when we sat down with Reagan and asked, “How did you feel when you were diagnosed with colon cancer at age 22?” and her immediate response:  “Relieved.” But for someone with colon cancer running through her family and years worth of symptoms and pain, she was happy to finally have answers. Read on to learn more about Miss December, Reagan Barnett, a great spokesperson and advocate for colorectal cancer, and especially …

Meet Miss November | Paige Hartmann

Yes, it’s true. This beautiful gal that’s featured as Miss November is a survivor of colon cancer… diagnosed at age 21. The Colon Club was thrilled to meet her and have her model for us in the 2012 Colondar. Read on to learn more about Paige!

paige-hartmann-21-year-old-colon-cancerThe BASICS

Name: Paige Hartmann

Diagnosis: Stage III rectal cancer in October 2009.

Age at Diagnosis: 21



Where were you when you found out you had colon cancer? 

I was …

Meet Ms. October | Staci Wills

Now although she does have striking resemblance to her, October’s model is not Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie. It’s Staci Wills, a brave rectal cancer survivor from Canfield, OH. Read on to learn more about this funny, charming survivor we’re proud to call one of our own at The Colon Club.


Staci-wills-stage-3-rectal-cancerName: Staci Wills

Diagnosis: Stage III rectal cancer in July 2009.

Age at Diagnosis: 32



Where were you when

Meet Mr. September | Adam Benlon

Turning the calendar to Mr. September makes us smile anyway, but especially because we get to stare at Adam for the next month. Not only is his story of survivorship inspiring, but his jokes and humor make him extra fun. Enjoy getting to know this latest colon survivor!

Adam-benlon-colon-cancer-survivorThe BASICS

Name: Adam Benlon

Diagnosis: Stage IIIc colon cancer on  August 18, 2009

Age at Diagnosis: 29



Where were you when you found out you had colon

A Jarring Ride Back to Reality

I have been blessed as a survivor. All the people I have met through various colorectal cancer groups are survivors, and many are what I call “thrivers.” Colorectal cancer has hit them hard, but they just keep going. The survivors I have met are just that – survivors. Most of my friends through these groups are either getting on with their life, are learning to live a new “normal” life, or are years past their diagnosis.

I can read. I …

Musings on my patient/caregiver relationship

by Staci Wills

From the day I was diagnosed until the day I rang the closing bell on chemo, I tried my best to avoid hearing the statistics, small percentages, possible side effects associated with my cancer, but I also avoided other colorectal cancer patients.  That sounds harsh, but I didn’t want to hear what could, might, or would happen to me.  I didn’t want to hear what the statistics said about Stage III rectal cancer.  I didn’t want to …

Meet Miss August | Melissa Bates

Woo hoo! We are so excited to introduce you to this beautiful young woman, Miss August! Not only is she so cuper cute, but she’s also got one of the biggest hearts you’ll find. Read on to learn a little bit more about Miss August, Melissa Bates.



Name: Melissa Bates

Diagnosis: Stage III rectal cancer on October 2, 2008

Age at Diagnosis: 20



Where were you when you found out you

Cancerversary – When Is It?

by Staci Wills

This week marks my three-year cancerversary – I think? Do you celebrate your cancerversary based on the day you were diagnosed or the day you finished chemo? Three years, in relation to my age (35), is a very short time. Three years goes by so quickly. Major life changes happen in just three years. I remember that when I was 10, I thought I would never be a teenager. At 13, I thought 16 would never arrive. …

Meet Mr. July – Tim Maiorca

Welcome Mr. July! We’re excited to introduce you to this brave stage IV survivor and share his story with you. And you’re welcome ladies, we know many of you are aren’t going to mind seeing him all month!

Tim-maorica-stage4-colon-cancer-survivorThe BASICS about TIM MAIORCA

Name: Tim Maiorca

Diagnosis: Stage IV colon cancer on March 20, 2002

Age at Diagnosis: 37



Where were you when you found out you had colon cancer? 

I was at work. I went …

Celebrating Success — Another Milestone Achieved!

by Staci Wills

Well, I did it! I have been irrigating my colostomy for several months, and for the most part my bowels are pretty regular. Like I said a few days ago, I have never had the courage to wear only a stoma cap outside the walls of my house, but yesterday I did it, and I plan to do it again today! Wearing the stoma cap meant that I could wear a regular bathing suit without the “granny …

Irrigation: It’s Not Just For Crops Anymore!

by Staci Wills


This blog won’t always be about ostomies, but since Belle opened the door, here is another spin on life as an ostomate.

At 32, I was diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer. Because of how low in the rectum my tumor was located, I had no other option but to have a colostomy. Not having any other options, I quickly accepted that this would be my new way of life, but accepting something and embracing it …

Meet Ms. June – Kim Hall Jackson

Kim Hall Jackson – what a gem. She’s our Ms. June and boy does she have a great story. Read on to learn not only about how she survived rectal cancer but how she continues to make a difference and continually give back – constantly grateful for every blessing in her life.

kim-hall-jackson-rectal-cancerThe BASICS about KIM HALL JACKSON

Name: Kim Hall Jackson

Diagnosis date: Stage III rectal cancer in December 2008 (originally diagnosed with Stage I, re-diagnosed after surgery.)

Age …

Meet Ms. May – Connie Belden

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate May Day than to introduce you to Connie Belden. She’s one of the quickest-witted people we know and brings a smile to everyone she meets. And a joke. Learn a little bit more about Ms. May 2012, Connie Belden!


Connie-belden-colon-cancer-survivorName: Connie Belden

Diagnosis date: Stage I colon cancer on October 6, 2006

Age: 32



Where were you when you found out you

Meet Mr. April – Dan Wilson

We know it’s April Fools Day and all but our newest Colondar model to be featured throughout April is no joke. Dan’s a marathoner who’s run a race in all 50 states. His story is inspiring, encouraging and eye-opening. Read on to learn a little bit more about Mr. April 2012, Dan Wilson!

dan-wilson-colon-cancer-survivorThe BASICS about DAN WILSON

Name: Dan Wilson

Diagnosis date: Stage III colon cancer in December 2005

Age: 47



Where were you when

Meet Mr. March 2012 | Roger Rojas

Happy Colon Cancer Awareness Month! To celebrate, meet one amazing survivor, Mr. March, Roger Rojas!

Roger is an avid runner, Steelers fan (although he’s from Texas) and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Read on to learn a little bit more about him.


Roger-Rojas-colon-cancer-survivorName: Roger Rojas

Diagnosis date: October 7, 2008 at age 32 with Stage III rectal cancer.



Where were you when you found out you had colon

Announcing the 2013 Models!

We’ve got another AMAZING group of models that will be showing off their scars and sharing their stories with everyone in the 2013 Colondar!

Please join us in celebrating our next round of Colondar models!

Gals in the 2013 Colondar

Dawn Gagliardi- Smyrna, GA

Dana Holbrook- Point Pleasant, NJ

Carolyn Hunt- Calabasas, CA

Tia Jones- Wichita, KS

Kelly Kuster- Milwaukee, WI

Kerryn Miller- Seattle, WA

Meaghan Volk- Peoria, AZ

Guys in the 2013 Colondar:

Sanjay Bery- Basking Ridge, NJ

Doug …

Meet Miss February 2012 – Belle Piazza

February is the month of love, and oh how fitting that as we introduce Miss February 2012.

Belle Piazza is a charming mom of two and avid gardener from Battle Ground, WA. She’s fun, spirited and a fighter. Read on to learn a little bit more about Belle.


belle-piazza.the-colon-club-cancer-survivorName: Belle Piazza
Diagnosis date: October 23, 2007 (a day before her son’s 5th birthday) with stage IIIc rectal cancer at age 43
Currently undergoing chemotherapy.


Meet Mr. January 2012 – David Dubin

Today we get to break open the seal and hang up our 2012 Colondars! And this brave cowboy is the first to grace the pages as Mr. January 2012.

David Dubin is a three-time cancer survivor from Haworth, NJ. You might have already read his Colondar bio to learn about his story of cancer survival, but here are some other fun facts that you may not have known about our Mr. January 2012. We sat down with him at …

2013 Colondar Model Applications

Our application process has begun and we’re now taking applications for 2013 Colondar Models.

Download The 2013 Colondar Model Application

How To Apply For The Colondar:

Please download the application, and fill it out completely. When you turn in the application, we’ll need:

  • The completed 2013 application.
  • A photo (one that shows your surgical scar – or lack of one)
  • A long bio (see past model bios to get an idea of what we are looking for.)

Send your completed …

Gift Guide for the Colon Cancer Survivor

In just a few days, our newspapers will be shoved full of ads and stores will be going crazy! Black Friday is upon us! If you’re starting to make your Christmas shopping list and trying to figure out what to buy the colon cancer survivor in your life, we have a few ideas! Coming from a community full of “semicolons,” here are some gifts that some of us wouldn’t mind getting … and watch out, they may just be what …

The 2012 Colondar is Here!

The wait is over!

The Colon Club is happy to unveil the next group of thirteen remarkable colon/rectal cancer survivors.

Set in the natural outdoors of the Lake George, NY area, this baby is one-of-a-kind.

Models bravely reveal their surgical scars surrounded by rolling hills, blue skies and the natural outdoors. Each photo shows that there is beauty in cancer survival, even as unnatural or unusual as colon cancer before age 50 can be.

Buy a 2012 Colondar!

The 2012

Colossal Colon Photos from Conway, AR Visit