Family honors mother's memory at Detroit Undy Run to fight colorectal cancer

- It is a cancer that too many people are uncomfortable talking about - but we need to talk about it, because it's preventable, it's treatable - and it's still killing far too many people.

One local family knows this pain all too well and they're taking action to help others. 

"She was in the hospital and she was still smiling - asking about everybody else," said Mike MacDonald of his late wife, April.

Mike spoke to FOX 2 surrounded by his children - all of them strong but struggling still, having just lost their beloved wife and mother in February.

"When she was diagnosed with cancer they gave her a year and a half to live," Mike said. "Well she ended up pulling another five years out."

April MacDonald was just 43 when she was diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer - it metastasized to her liver and lungs. She died earlier this year at the age of 49.

"She was a fighter," Mike said. "There's no doubt about it and she would never let on that she was sick."

They called her one tough cookie and Team Cookie will be back out, as they have been every year - at The Undy Run Saturday in Detroit to raise money for colorectal cancer research and to raise awareness about screening and early detection.

"She just became really involved and got us all involved," said Catherine MacDonald, April's daughter. "And if she was here, she'd still be the big advocate that she was, so we just want to carry that on."

"We're doing it because she would want us to do it," Mike said.

Because she knew what they know, how important that research and awareness is - and knowing the symptoms - typically blood in the stool. 

April was so young but did have a family history, putting her at greater risk of developing colon cancer.

"Know your family history, because that will help determine your screening," said Dr. Anthony Shields, Karmanos Cancer Institute. "But even if you have no family history you should at least start screening at age 45 or 50. Because the screening helps prevent cancer and (detect) very early cancers. It makes an enormous difference."

Proper screening is so important - and April's children are strong advocates for early detection. They know they could be at risk but they want everyone else to be aware as well.

"If someone in your family is diagnosed, at the age they're diagnosed - you should get checked out 10 years before," said Jordan MacDonald, April's daughter. "So my mom was diagnosed at 43 - we all need to get checked out at 33."

"When she found out she wanted to make sure other people found out earlier," said Kyle MacDonald, April's son. "Early detection to help themselves. It hit close to home and we're just trying to help other people."

The MacDonald family will be at the 2018 Detroit Undy Run/Walk to fight colorectal cancer and raise awareness at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 on the Detroit Riverwalk, Rivard Plaza, 1340 Atwater Street.

FOX 2's Amy Lange will also be there, to learn more about the event GO HERE.

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