OMAHA, NE (October 31, 2011) – Evangelical Covenant Church pastor Doug Ferguson went to the doctor last October because he had been unable to keep his food down. An endoscopy showed he had stage four gastric cancer.
He died in June at age 60.
Earlier this month the first “Run for Doug” 5K run/walk benefit attracted more than 350 participants and volunteers, who raised more than $9,000 that will be donated to fund gastric cancer research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Even more important was raising awareness of the disease, says his wife, Cyndi. She wishes her family had known about gastric cancer, which often shows few symptoms before it has progressed beyond life-saving treatment.
“Gastric cancer is an aggressive, silent killer,” Cyndi said prior to the event. Malignant cells form in the lining of the stomach. According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no known cause; however, diet, family history and other factors can elevate the risk.
“Performing an endoscopy in addition to a routine colonoscopy during wellness exams is crucial in early detection,” Cyndi says. “I only wish Doug had an endoscopy a year earlier.”
Cyndi adds, “Surgery to remove the stomach can be done thru stage three gastric cancer, but is not done with stage four,” she adds.
Celebration Covenant Church, which Doug planted, sponsored the October 8 event. They already are planning another event for next year.