LOUISVILLE, KY September 30, 2011 – Karen Lewis of Brighton, MI has been named the 2011 Great Comebacks® Central Region Award Recipient for her courage in overcoming colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis and for her efforts to raise awareness and funding to support research related to many medical conditions. After she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, Lewis went on to complete 32 marathons and three ultra-marathons. She also co-founded the American Cancer Society’s Feet and Friends Fighting Colon Cancer race/walk event.
The Great Comebacks® award honors outstanding examples of bravery and service after a diagnosis of a serious illness or trauma that leads to ostomy surgery. Lewis was presented with a regional Great Comebacks® award in a special ceremony at the 2011 MidEast Region Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society conference. The ceremony was hosted by Great Comebacks® Program founder and NFL football legend Rolf Benirschke.
At 23 Lewis was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which caused her to develop anemia and experience severe weight loss and ultimately required the removal of most of her colon. Following her surgery, her health improved and she dedicated herself to helping others with serious medical conditions by competing in charitable marathon events. By completing 32 marathons and three ultra-marathons she has raised thousands of dollars to support research related to intestinal diseases, including over $10,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA).
In 2005, after completing the Boston Marathon, Lewis was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Over the course of the next two years she underwent chemotherapy, radiation, seven surgeries and a permanent ileostomy. The support of her running friends and her husband helped Lewis to get through this difficult time, along with her strong will to recover and run again. Even while in the hospital, she continued to train for her next race by walking laps around the floors.
”I knew that if I could run marathons, I could beat cancer,” said Lewis.
Following her recovery, Lewis teamed up with friend and fellow cancer survivor Susan Snyder to establish the American Cancer Society’s Feet and Friends Fighting Colon Cancer. In April 2011 they held their first event in Ann Arbor, MI where 564 participants raised more than $60,000 to support research to find a cure for colon cancer. While working as a faculty support coordinator at the University of Michigan, Lewis is also moving forward with plans to hold Feet and Friends Fighting Colon Cancer fundraising events in other cities.
”It is really heartbreaking to see people suffer from this disease, especially younger people. Typically when colon cancer is detected in the young it is already at an advanced stage. I hope that we can raise enough money to develop a cure to help colon cancer patients at every stage,” said Lewis.
Great Comebacks® is sponsored by ConvaTec, a world-leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies for community and hospital care, in partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation (CCFA), the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA), the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS).
”Karen is a wonderful example of a young woman who has overcome many serious medical challenges and continues to push herself to make a positive difference. Her bravery continually inspires many others in our community who face severe intestinal conditions,” said Rolf Benirschke, founder and chairman, Great Comebacks® Program.
ConvaTec is a leading developer and marketer of innovative medical technologies that have helped improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. With four key focus areas – Ostomy Care, Wound Therapeutics, Continence and Critical Care, and Infusion Devices – ConvaTec products support health care professionals from the hospital to the community health setting. For more information, please visit www.ConvaTec.com.
About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA)
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's (CCFA) mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. The Foundation ranks third among leading health non-profits in the percentage of expense devoted to research toward a cure, with more than 79 cents of every dollar the Foundation spends going to mission-critical programs. The Foundation consistently meets the standards of organizations that monitor charities, including the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) and the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org). For more information, contact the Foundation at 800-932-2423 or visit www.CCFA.org.
About the United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA)
The United Ostomy Associations of America, Inc. (UOAA) is a national network for bowel and urinary diversion support groups in the United States. Its goal is to provide a non-profit association that will serve to unify and strengthen its member support groups, which are organized for the benefit of people who have, or will have intestinal or urinary diversions and their caregivers. For more information, please visit www.ostomy.org.
About the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS)
The North American Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS) raises awareness of intestinal diseases through education and public awareness campaigns. IDEAS provides quality of life enhancing programs for children and young adults afflicted with intestinal diseases and their families. IDEAS conducts advocacy programs on behalf of all people living with intestinal diseases. For more information, please visit www.WeNeedIdeas.com.
About the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society
The WOCN Society is a professional nursing society that promotes educational, clinical and research opportunities to advance the practice and guide the delivery of expert health care to individuals with wounds, ostomies and incontinence. Membership includes more 4,700 healthcare professionals who are experts in the care of patients with wound, ostomy and incontinence. For more information, please visit www.WOCN.org.
About the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS)
The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is the premier society for colon and rectal surgeons and other surgeons dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and practice of the treatment of patients with diseases and disorders affecting the colon, rectum and anus. Founded in 1899, ASCRS has over 2,600 surgeons and specialist members, including over 1000 board certified colon and rectal surgeons. For more information about ASCRS, please visit www.FASCRS.org.