Lawrence resident raising awareness about colon cancer after famous brother's death
- on March 14, 2011
Lawrence resident Sally Monahan Zogry talks about the importance of colon cancer screenings every chance she gets.
Monahan Zogry, 43, development director at Health Care Access, said the colon cancer diagnosis stunned her family because her brother watched his diet and exercised regularly.
But in hindsight, she said there were clues. He had a lot of stomach upset and heartburn.
“We used to joke that he had a pack of Tums in every coat pocket,” Monahan Zogry said. “The month before he was diagnosed, I saw him and he was so thin. He said he had lost weight because he didn’t feel well. He said it felt like he had the flu.”
She said he was getting ready for a family beach vacation and joked that the sun would “bake it out of him.”
Jay Monahan ended up doubled over in pain in the emergency room, and that’s where doctors discovered a mass the size of a softball in his upper colon. They determined that his cancer was advanced and had started to metastasize, most notably to his liver.
Nine months later, he died on Jan. 24, 1998.
Monahan Zogry, the youngest of his six siblings, was 30 at the time. She had her first colonoscopy before he died, and has had one every three to five years since.
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never had any pre-cancerous polyps,” she said. “But, all of us (her siblings) have had polyps removed.”
She credits Couric for raising awareness about colon cancer — a disease that wasn’t talked about much before Jay Monahan died.
“We are so much more aware now that it is preventable and treatable if caught early,” Monahan Zogry said. “We are not as afraid to talk about it. I can proudly say that my brother has saved many lives, probably thousands of them.”
Monahan Zogry shared her in-depth story as part of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month on WellCommons.