Why I Founded Chris4Life

Why did Michael Sapienza found Chris4Life?

chris4lifeMichael Sapienza, founder of Chris4Life, had a very personal experience with colon cancer when his mother, Christine, was diagnosed in 2006. Christine fought the disease for three years before passing in 2009. Michael had seen many organizations doing wonderful things concerning colon cancer, but felt that more should be done to raise awareness. He founded the organization Chris4Life shortly after and continues to serve as Executive Director.

Michael Sapienza: Hello, my name is Michael Sapienza. I am the executive director of the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation which was founded in memory of my mother Christine Sapienza in 2009. I remember the day when my mom called me and told me that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was actually October 4, 2006. I was living in Miami Beach, Florida. I was actually a musician prior to founding Chris4Life and my mother was an interior designer. She was a pianist. She was an overall amazing individual that basically gave for her entire life.

When she was diagnosed, I remember the words that her and my father used to describe the diagnosis was Michael, we have a little bump in the road, we have a little hill and she said every uphill, we have a downhill and I remember saying to myself immediately, oh my gosh, my mom has cancer. This is something that I never thought would happen to our family. She was, you know, skinny, she was healthy, she exercised, no history of cancer in our family.

My mom was 55 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer and she had not had a screening colonoscopy. If she had, she would be here with us today. Before my mom had passed, I actually moved home. I was playing an orchestra, as I said, in Miami Beach, Florida and I moved to home about two months before she passed and we actually decided as a family to participate in scope it out 5k run/walk. At the time, it was the largest colon cancer runners event in the country. It was before Chris4Life was even formed and my mom was like, let’s form a team, let’s raise some money, let’s do something for this and in the course of doing that while she was very-very sick at the time, we realized very quickly there was not awareness for colon cancer, it was not on TV, it was not on the radio, it was not in the newspaper.

We were seeing ads for Leukemia Lymphoma Society, other money for organizations Race for the Cure, that were in October but we were not hearing anything about colon cancer. This was March, Colon Cancer Awareness Month or Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and we were not hearing anything. And to be honest, this was when I think in me, I started getting this spark of we need to do more.

There are other organizations out there that are doing wonderful things right now, but this needs to be a disease that we can all talk about and it is a preventible disease and so, unfortunately my mom did pass this May 11, 2009. It was the day after Mother’s Day and obviously for a few months we were reeling, but about two months after she passed, we sat down with some family and friends and some supporters and we said, you know, let’s look at what is out there, let’s look at the colon cancer alliance and the great work that they are doing and Fight CRC and the great work that they are doing and some other organizations and let’s try to compliment that and create an organization that can do what Susan G. Komen has done for breast cancer.

We were formed and I think it was October 2009. We launched in March of 2010 and we have three main programs. The Chris4Life has a researching care program, a patient treatment and care program, and an awareness and prevention program and we spent a lot of time talking about whether should awareness and prevention be first because it is a 90% preventible disease, so if everybody got their colonoscopy or their life saving colon cancer screening when they should which is at age 50 or age 45 for African American or age 40 if you have a family history. If everybody did that, we would have 90% of colon cancers prevented. We have to get people talking about this disease, so I encourage you to go to LoveYourButt.org or Chris4Life.org to get more information about the foundation.


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