May's Hero of the Month: Athlete and Advocate Teri Griege

Exact Sciences: Thank you for participating in our Hero of the Month column. Could you please start off by explaining a little more your personal connection with colon cancer?

Teri: I was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in September 2009 at age 48, just two weeks after completing an Ironman, which consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and finally a 26.2 mile run. I ignored the symptoms as I thought that I was generally run-down from overtraining. After my diagnosis, I spoke with my family about getting screened. Both of my sisters, who were in their early 60s and hadn’t been screened, both went in for colonoscopies. One sister had precancerous polyps and the other was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. I continue to receive chemotherapy and regular scans after receiving radiation, chemotherapy, a liver resection and colon resection.

Exact Sciences: What are you doing to raise awareness of this disease?

Teri: Since my diagnosis, it has been my passion to spread awareness of cancer and inspire others. I was featured as an inspirational athlete at the 2011 World Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii. In 2012, I was recognized as a leader in the fight against colorectal cancer by the Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) and was a recipient of the Sapphire Award. I’ve also served as a spokesperson for CCA’s Dress in Blue Day. I frequently attend events that focus on awareness and share my story. In the upcoming months, I will be speaking at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Ventana Medical Systems’ National Sales Conference, and meetings for The Ben Newman Companies and Northwestern Mutual. I’m very active with social media and getting the word out via my website, Facebook Page, and Twitter account.



Exact Sciences: In your opinion, why is it important for people to be educated about the disease and the prevention methods?

Teri: No one wants to talk about colorectal cancer. Really it is a humbling cancer. Who wants to discuss such personal matters? I try to do so with humor. We must educate the general population that with screening, this cancer can be prevented. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and second leading cause of cancer death for men and women combined. On average, 1 in 20 will develop colon cancer. Early detection and education is the key to fighting this disease.

Exact Sciences: We know you are very athletic. Is there anything that you haven't accomplished as an athlete that you hope to accomplish in the near future?

Teri: Last month my husband and I ran the London marathon thus completing the fifth of the world’s five major marathons. I have already completed Chicago, Boston, New York and Berlin. I also have two half Ironman events and one full Ironman event on my summer/fall racing schedule (health permitting). Exact Sciences: Where do you see research/treatments of this disease in 5 years; what do you hope will happen/change? Teri: For colorectal cancer with improved screening, education and early detection, my hope is that we won't have nearly the amount of people to treat. This disease is preventable, treatable and beatable. Easier screening would increase compliance, leading to fewer cases. Also with targeted therapies, treatments have much greater success rates. I have to believe there are great things to come in the future. My life depends on this!

Topics: Hero of the Month

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