Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Hartford Family Foundation helps impacted families in Wisconsin

NOW: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Hartford Family Foundation helps impacted families in Wisconsin

WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. (CBS 58) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

According to UW Health, it's the second most common cancer in both men and women.

It's the number one cancer-related cause of death in men under 50, and number two in women under 50.

There are several ways to screen for colorectal cancer, including at-home tests.

In 2021, the routine screening age for colorectal cancer was lowered from 50 to 45.

"We're seeing a pretty dramatic increase in people under 50 being diagnosed," said Dr. Noelle Loconte, with University of Wisconsin. "Many of us would like to see the screening age drop even younger because of that."

LoConte says screening can save lives; there has been a decrease in colorectal cancer for those over 50.

Several groups are using March to raise awareness about colorectal cancer.

One local organization is using their experience to help young families through the process.

In Silver Spring Park, in Whitefish Bay, sits a bench dedicated to Darcie Hartford.

"She lived her life positively, and hopefully and optimistically," said her husband, Ben. "We put this bench in a few months after she had passed as a place for not just myself, my family, but people in the community that can go be with her."

Darcie was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 2019. She was only 36 years old.

"We had two young kids at the time, eight and six years old," Ben said. "She fought the disease bravely for two and a half years, with really no break in her treatment." 

Darcie lost her battle in November 2021. That's when her husband created the Hartford Family Foundation.

"Our mission is to help families, specifically young families, that are dealing with all types of cancer," Ben said. "Obviously, colorectal cancer is one that's very close to what we do."

In just over two years, the foundation has granted financial assistance to 34 families.

"We want to honor my wife's spirit as best as we can. We kind of feel her through the work that we do," Ben explained.

They also focus on colorectal cancer awareness and hope to eventually help with research.

"It can happen to anybody, and the data shows that it's happening younger and younger in our population," Ben said. "It is treatable if it's caught early, but the key is catching it early."

Ben wants to grow the foundation for years to come, and eventually pass it on to his kids.

His message: advocacy is crucial.

"Be as relentless in your pursuit of your own health care and your own wellbeing as possible," Ben said. "Know that there are organizations out there and people out there that are willing to help."

Click hereto learn more about the Hartford Family Foundation.

Share this article: