MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Mt. Juliet, Tennessee widow is sharing her story on the national stage to raise awareness about colorectal cancer.
Yvette Davis-Atkins lost her husband in 2013 to colon cancer. Davis-Atkins has become an ambassador for Fight Colorectal Cancer, an advocacy organization working to raise awareness about the disease.
Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and the ninth in Tennessee, according to Fight Colorectal Cancer.
Davis-Atkins said her husband Len was just 48 years old when he died. He passed away only one year after his diagnosis in 2012.
"We did not know how bad it would be until he had the surgery to remove the cancer, but then it had metastasized already. He lived nine months, so the official diagnosis was September of 2012 and he died in July of 2013," Davis-Atkins said.
Their son was only 11 years old at the time.
"We had a son to raise and it was just the three of us. It's taken me a few years but now I made advocacy, my mission," she said.
Fight CRC says this type of cancer can be preventable if caught early with timely screenings. The organization says cases among younger people are on the rise and it's possible colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer deaths among people aged 20-49 in the next decade.
"I know it's my goal now in life to talk about colon cancer. A lot of stigma amongst people when they talk about having a colonoscopy. You know they hate the prep too and just talking about the bowel system is not something that you hear a lot about," Davis-Atkins said. "I want colon cancer to be discussed. I want to mimic how breast cancer is. I want the funding through the government. I want the National Cancer Institute to come up with a plan because colon cancer is detectable and is preventable."
Davis-Atkins is raising money to fight colon cancer next month with the inaugural Len Atkins Golf Tournament at the Hermitage Golf Course. Here is a link to register. It's set for April 28.