At 29, Dan Hawkins wasn’t thinking about cancer. He was busy working, traveling, following his favorite sports teams and playing poker. But his diagnosis inspired him to organize Portland’s “Get Your Rear in Gear” 5K walk and run, an event to boost awareness about colon cancer and raise funds for local cancer screening programs.
Get Your Rear in Gear 5K Run/Walk
Saturday, August 5 | 8:30-10:30am
Mt. Tabor Park, SE Salmon Way
Register for Team OHSU
At first, Hawkins says he dismissed his symptoms because he was young and seemingly healthy. However, once the pain started he visited an emergency department in 2013. Initially, his doctor thought he had Crohn’s disease but insisted that he also have a colonoscopy. That’s when Hawkins learned he had rectal cancer.
Three weeks later, he started radiation and wore a chemotherapy pump 24/7 for 30 days. He also decided to see Dan Herzig, M.D., associate professor of surgery at OHSU, for a second opinion. While the recommended course of care was the same, he says he immediately felt comfortable and confident in Dr. Herzig’s care.
“Dr. Herzig made me feel like I would be okay after a surgery that would change my life forever and leave me with a permanent colostomy,” says Hawkins. “He was right. I’m more than okay. I’m living my life and hope that I can help others.”
During treatment, Hawkins searched for a colorectal cancer-focused event that he could join and was surprised he couldn’t find one in Portland. He drove to Seattle to participate in his first Get Your Rear in Gear event organized by the Colon Cancer Coalition.
“It was so personal and inspiring,” says Hawkins. “They knew me and my story at the check-in table and made me feel like an important part of the fight. I wanted other survivors and supporters to be able to experience that in Portland so I worked with the Colon Cancer Coalition to make it happen.”
Now in its third year in Portland, Get Your Rear in Gear aims to raise $30K for local colorectal screening programs and support services, including the Colon Cancer Awareness and Patient Assistance Project at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, which promotes early detection through awareness and provides financial assistance to underserved patients to help cover costs associated with procedures and treatments.
Online registration closes Tuesday, August 1, at midnight. On-site registration opens at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 5. The registration fee is $30 for adults (13 and older) and $12 for youths (age 12 and under) for the 5K. The event fees on race day increase to $40 for adults and $15 for youths.
Participants receive post-run refreshments, t-shirts, and marathon quality medals for age group winners. Awards for the most creative team, largest team, top individual and top team fundraisers, will be given at the event.
“Organizing an event like this is a dream in a way,” says Hawkins. “It’s an incredible opportunity to bring the Portland community together to rally around colorectal cancer awareness and to support local programs that can benefit all of us.”
Top photo: Dan Hawkins (center in the light blue shirt) and participants from the Portland Get Your Rear in Gear event in 2016. Photo provided by Dan Hawkins.