Erin Wood was only 42 when she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. More than 8 years later she's been through multiple surgeries and rounds of chemo.
While medication is keeping the cancer at bay for now, she knows she's on borrowed time.
"I just keep going along, because I'm going to get my son through school, that's what my goal is," says Erin.
She's also focused on making the most out of each and every day.
"I'm doing whatever I want, little things I don't sweat, I have someone clean my house now, I'm not going to be bothered. I'm going on trips."
And she's using her personal experience to help raise awareness about colon and rectal cancers.
Last year she took part in Duke's first 'Crush Colorectal Cancer 5K,' and this weekend she'll be back walking as the captain of her own team.
"So my team is called 'Team TushTush,'" she shares with a laugh.
Meanwhile, she has this message to others: pay attention to any warning signs your body gives you and get screened. That's something echoed by Duke Oncologist Ivy Altomare, M.D..
"Screening is supposed to start with standard risk screenings at age fifty, and that's for all of us. With appropriate screening you can detect the cancer early, and it has the highest cure rates at the earliest stages," Dr. Altomare explains.
Despite this, colon and rectal cancers claim lives that could have been spared.
"Colorectal cancer is actually the second leading cause of cancer related deaths for men and women combined in the United States," Dr. Altomare adds.
Dr. Altomare and Erin both hope Duke's annual walk will help to spread the word about the importance of getting screened, as well as raising money for Colorectal Cancer research being done at Duke.
The race is Saturday on the American Tobacco Trail, rain or shine, starting at 9 a.m. For more information on this, visit these links:
Crush Colorectal 5K and Fun Walk
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Local woman battling cancer urges others to get screened