Valerie Gardner Smith
Survivor and Founder
Valerie draws daily inspiration from Jesus and the fact that he died so that we could live. It is the motivation for her motto: “Live to Live”; and, with a positive spirit, she has been able to turn some of life’s devastating defeats into triumphs. She is a colon cancer survivor; has earned a masters degree after being declared legally blind; and, because of these incredible achievements, created a non-profit organization, Crusaders for Colon Cancer, Inc.
For several years I prayed to God asking, “What is my “PURPOSE?” On February 23, 2011, life as I once knew it was totally changed. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and since undergoing treatment, I thank God that as of today, I have no evidence of disease.
During my journey, I was able to form relationships with people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, I spoke with many people who were unable to receive standard of care treatment due to their inability to pay. It was disheartening to know that people had to choose perhaps between eating and paying household expenses or to use those funds for treatment-related costs! People just like me actually had to choose between life-saving therapy or death! I was inspired to do something to help. Suddenly, I had a revelation…I knew my “PURPOSE!”
I am the founder of Crusaders for Colon Cancer, Inc. (“CCCI”), a 501c3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to conquer colorectal cancer by providing evidence-based education of the modifiable risk factors, screening, early detection as well as providing support to colorectal patients, survivors, caregivers and other patient advocates.
By promoting community awareness in the Greater Houston/Galveston metropolitan area, we have the opportunity to foster healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Crusaders for Colon Cancer, Inc.’s endeavors are to ultimately impact the survival rate of colorectal cancer by encouraging the appropriate screening as well as providing information regarding the early symptoms/risk factors. The goal of the organization is to annually provide funding for colon cancer screening and associated costs for individuals in under-served communities.
Like me, approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. If caught in earliest stages, the 5 year survival rate is over 90%. Colon cancer is the number two cancer killer of men and women in the United States. Navy blue is the color that represents colorectal cancer; therefore it would be an honor if you, survivors, family members and friends would wear blue during the month of March as it is nationally recognized as colon cancer awareness month.
Many people cringe at the thought of having a colonoscopy. I was one of those people. But by the grace of God a colonoscopy, treatment, my family, a strong support system, along with countless prayers, saved my life…The Tail’s End…
I had the opportunity speak with Comcast Newsmakers during an interview about why colon cancer screenings are important. Watch it here!
Regenia, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, is an Oncology Clinical Education Coordinator for Genentech, Inc. in the North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and North Louisiana territories. She is an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Oncology Nursing Society Chemotherapy and Biotherapy provider course instructor. Mrs. Washington-Redmon began her nursing career as an oncology staff/charge nurse working with gastrointestinal, thoracic, and head and neck medical/surgical oncology patients and as nurse practitioner in the department of G.I. Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Her transition to the biotechnology industry began as a hospital clinical specialist at Hoffman La Roche. She joined Amgen as an Oncology Clinical Specialist and later returned to clinical practice, assuming the role of Oncology Clinical Educator/nurse practitioner for the Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.
Mrs. Washington-Redmon is a member of the National and Greater East Texas chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society, and she frequently volunteers with the American Cancer Society. Her passion is educating peers and her community on colorectal and other solid-tumor cancers with her focus being on prevention and early detection. Her desire to educate others on colorectal and related cancers stems from a long family history colon cancer including her beloved father, grandfather, as well as a host of aunts, uncles, and extended family members dating back three generations.
Mrs. Washington-Redmon earned a Master of Science in nursing degree from Texas Woman’s University in Houston, Texas and board certification as a family nurse practitioner.
community outreach coordinator
Jacquelyn is an educator of 12 years in the public school setting k-12; she has taught for five years and was a campus principal for 6. In her current role as a central office administrator, Program Administrator in the Division of Interventions and Accountability, she is responsible for implementing and monitoring intervention strategies to retain students in school. In addition to the public school setting, she is an adjunct professor at a community college in Northeast Harris County.
As a district administrator, she conducted several professional development workshops for teachers and campus leaders. She has spoken at Region IV’s first Summer Institute for educators from around the Houston corridor as well as being a keynote speaker in Oklahoma City for a ladies’ retreat.
Jacquelyn earned her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Houston-Downtown, a Masters of Education from Prairie View A&M University and is currently All But Dissertation (ABD) from her doctorate degree from Walden University.
With these cumulative education and professional attainments, she wants to become more actively involved in community services. Although she has participated in community events like cancer walks with Sister To Sister, Avon, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and have helped the Houston Food Bank, there is still much work to do. Since she has the experience of coordinating major events like community health fairs, she feels now is the time to extend her talents with Crusaders for Colon Cancer as the Community Outreach Coordinator.