When Phoenix resident Robin Ross was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer in 2003 at the age of 40, she was met with a lot of negativity from experts.

“My first oncologist told me to get my affairs in order. I said the only plans I was making were future high school and wedding arrangements for my daughters,” Ross said. “I was so frustrated. So when I found the Colon Cancer Alliance, I was so thankful. I was beyond-tears thankful.”

She was introduced to the Colon Cancer Alliance’s annual Phoenix Undy Run/Walk in 2007, and it was a life-changing experience. The Phoenix Undy Run/Walk returns to the State Capitol District at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4,  for its tenth year. The Undy Run/Walk is a family-friendly 5K that not only raises awareness about colorectal cancer, but also raises money for promoting prevention through access to screening, research and patient support services.  

Ross has returned to the Phoenix Undy Run/Walk with her team the “Blue Tu Tu Crew” every year for nine years and plans to return again this year.

“The positivity saved my life. I am cancer-free. Last year, my team was the No. 1 fundraising team,” says Ross.

Ross started experiencing symptoms long before her 2003 diagnosis. But because she didn’t fit the criteria for a standard patient—a person over 50 with family history—her colorectal cancer was overlooked. Ross admits her recovery was an emotional roller coaster, but being a part of a positive community of survivors and caregivers kept her motivated. She also frequently comforts newly diagnosed CRC patients on her job as a health and wellness nurse.

Her advice to her fellow cancer warriors: “Don’t listen to statistics because they are meant to be broken.”

Like Ross, at least 80 percent of the Undy Run/Walk participants have a connection to colorectal cancer. Raising awareness and money are key elements of the Undy; however, the Undy Run/Walk is also a powerful way for survivors and their families to connect.

“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,” said Michael Sapienza, Colon Cancer Alliance CEO.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 135,430 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and approximately 50,260 are expected to die from the disease in 2017. In Arizona alone, 2,630 diagnoses and 1,020 deaths are expected this year. If detected early enough, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.

The 2017 Phoenix Undy Run/Walk is Nov. 4 at the State Capitol District in Phoenix. Onsite registration begins at 7:30 a.m., and the 5K begins at 9:00 a.m. For more information or to register, visit www.undyrunwalk.org, and click on Phoenix, AZ. The 2017 Phoenix Undy Run/Walk is sponsored in part by Cancer Treatment Centers of America and University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health.

Registration fees:

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