Long Branch, NJ – “I didn’t expect to have cancer. I didn’t have any symptoms,” says Michele Battista, Jersey Shore Undy Run/Walk volunteer and fierce colon cancer advocate. This year marks Battista’s five-year “Cancer-versary,” as she calls the day when she was diagnosed
with cancer. Checking off her list of things to do once she turned 50, she made an appointment with Red Bank Gastroenterology for a routine colonoscopy. It was during that appointment, she was diagnosed with stage 3c colon cancer at the age of 50.
“It’s bittersweet. Today seems so far away from when I first heard the words ‘you have cancer’, five years ago,” says Battista as she reflects on her Cancer-versary. She is now cancer-free and continually advocating for colon cancer patients and survivors through her work with Colon Cancer Alliance, an organization dedicated to knocking colon cancer out of the top three cancer killers by championing prevention, funding cutting-edge research and providing the highest quality patient support services.
She found out about Colon Cancer Alliance’s annual Jersey Shore Undy Run/Walk from a flyer hanging up in the Red Bank Gastroenterology’s office while supporting a family member during their colonoscopy. The Jersey Shore Undy Run/Walk takes a light-hearted approach to a serious and often times frightening subject. Participants sport silly, underwear-themed costumes in show of support for colon cancer patients, caregivers and families. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, July 15th at the Great Lawn at Pier Village in Long Branch, New Jersey.
Too ill to walk or volunteer in the Undy after initially hearing about it, she signed up the following year. She has returned every year for the last five years, managing to walk in the event, in spite of neuropathy in her feet as a result of chemotherapy which makes it difficult to run, walk or stand for long periods of time. In 2016, she took 3rd place in the Female Survivor category at 56 minutes.
“We are empowered by the strength and resilience of our community of survivors and caregivers. They are the heartbeat of this organization. With their assistance and dedication, the Undy Run/Walk series has become an amazing source of support and we are able to leave a footprint in each community we serve,” says Michael Sapienza, Colon Cancer Alliance CEO.
Any day of the week, Battista can be found rocking various shades of blue encouraging everyone around her to get their colonoscopies. “The colonoscopy is the easy part, the surgery and chemo are the hard part,” says Battista.
In 2017, approximately 95,520 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer, and approximately 50,260 will die from the disease. In New Jersey alone, there have been 4,280 diagnoses & 1,510 deaths this year. If detected early enough, colon cancer is highly treatable.
Although, she’s stopped counting a long time ago, Battista has inspired dozens of people to get their colonoscopies. A woman on a mission, Battista cannot be stopped. Her team, #RBGastro, will be at the Jersey Shore Undy again this year, after winning the award for largest team two years in a row.
Monies raised from the event support Colon Cancer Alliance’s local partner, Monmouth Medical Center. The award will be used to add colon cancer education to their programs to educate women over 50 and their spouses. Funds will also be used for lab and patient exam fees.
The event is sponsored by Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. For more information, please visit www.undyrunwalk.org.
5K Adult (14 and older) – $35 Advance/$40 Race Day
5K Youth (6-13) – $30 Advance/$35 Race Day
1 Mile Fun Run (all ages, Children 5 and younger are free) – $30 Advance/$35 Race Day
The Undy Run/Walk is July 15 in Great Lawn at Pier Village in Long Branch. Onsite registration begins at 7:00 a.m., and the run/walk begins at 8:00 a.m. For more information or to register, visit www.undyrunwalk.org, and click on Jersey Shore, NJ.