Mom, wife, realtor, runner, cellist, and colon cancer survivor for five and a half years. Suzanne Miller was taken aback when she was diagnosed with Stage I colon cancer at the age of 40. Colorectal cancer screenings start at 45 years for average-risk adults. She was in good health, trained for marathons, and ate well. Luckily, she was able to undergo surgery on November 18, 2016, to remove the cancer.
Suzanne realized she aspired to turn this event in her life into something good rather than dwelling on the fact that she had cancer. Since her surgery, on the 18th of each month, she spreads awareness by posting on Instagram and Facebook to remind individuals to “keep their rear in the clear.” Everyone who is over 45, under 45 with symptoms, or has a family history of colon or rectal cancer should get screened for colorectal cancer. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer should start screenings at 40 years or 10 years prior to the earliest diagnosis age in their family.
Survivor and Colon Cancer Awareness Advocate
Suzanne came across the Colon Cancer Foundation (CCF) while she was researching for a marathon to run in New York while raising money for a charity. She reached out to the Foundation and planned to run in the 2020 marathon, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That didn’t dampen Suzanne’s spirit. She completed the marathon in her hometown and raised the money with support from her friends and family members who participated in the run. She looks forward to running again in the 2023 Colon Cancer Challenge.
This past February, as a CCF Champion, Suzanne and her husband were invited to attend the Cologuard Classic in Tucson, Arizona. She represented CCF and was able to meet 90 other like-minded individuals who shared her passion to make a difference and prevent early onset of colon cancer. Inspired to raise money and awareness in her hometown, Suzanne partnered with her husband’s golf club to hold a fundraising golf tournament on May 16, 2022. She was supported in her efforts by her friend, a 10-year colon cancer survivor who also works to spread colorectal cancer awareness. The event had 10 sponsors, 13 teams, and 20 hole sponsors that covered most of the costs. Half of the profits will go to their local nonprofit, CRC Life, and the other half will go to CCF.
Suzanne emphasizes that people need to be more comfortable discussing colon cancer, as they do other topics. Ever since she began raising awareness on social media, Suzanne has received messages from individuals when they received a colonoscopy, got a polyp removed, or discovered they have a family history of colon cancer. Through her experience as a young, healthy woman diagnosed with colon cancer, she brings attention to the fact that cancer does not discriminate. She always tells individuals to remind their friends and family to get a colonoscopy. “Even having one person find out that they do not have cancer is a win,” she says. Suzanne loves that we live in a world where we can speak our mind, while being kind and courteous, and have people that listen and don’t discount the matter at hand.
Kenadi Kaewmanaprasert is an intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.