Carrying My Father’s Torch for Colorectal Cancer Awareness


After my dad died of colorectal cancer, I knew I had to continue advocacy work in his honor.

By Ryan Shadle

My father, Paul Shadle, was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2016 at age 44. The day that he was diagnosed was terrible. I can remember falling to the floor and thinking, “Why him?”

My dad was strong — in fact he was the strongest person I have ever met. He never once complained about what he was going through or said it was unfair (although that’s what I thought and felt about it). He loved to share his story and help other advocates spread awareness about colorectal cancer.

Unfortunately, in February 2021, we lost him to cancer. I want to continue his mission and advocate on his behalf. I want to carry his torch.

My dad inspired me to become an ambassador for Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC). He was an ambassador in 2018. He was so passionate about what the colorectal cancer community stood for. Most people remember him as a quiet force. I admired him even more when I watched him share his story on Capitol Hill at Fight CRC’s annual advocacy event Call-on Congress. My dad took his time to meet with our lawmakers so they could understand what people battling colorectal cancer were going through and what they needed.

I plan to attend Call-on Congress this year to continue sharing my father’s story and my story. I will be walking down the same streets and talking to many of the same people he did at his last Call-on Congress in 2019. This will be somber, but I believe his story needs to be told, and I’m going to continue telling it. There is so much opportunity for our stories to make a difference.

Although the grief is hard, this quote by my dad is something that keeps me going:

“I want to make an impact by discussing screening options with as many people as possible. Spreading the word about screening and this terrible disease will hopefully save someone's life. Most importantly, I want to support research so that one day we find a cure.”

I want to see more national attention for colorectal cancer. Colon and rectal cancers are some of the top cancer killers in the U.S., and the best thing I can do is bring attention to it. My dad was young when he received his diagnosis, so he was always an advocate for colorectal cancer screening, especially at earlier ages when someone was experiencing signs or symptoms.

Looking back on that day my dad was diagnosed, I think about how strong he was and the strength that carried throughout his entire journey. As for me that day, I made it off the floor and got to watch one of the greatest men who has ever lived show me how to fight. Now, I ask myself, “How can I help others who are in the same situation he was in? How can we catch this cancer before it is stage 4 in other patients?”

This is how I am carrying my dad’s torch.

Knowing the symptoms of colorectal cancer and understanding your risks of developing it may prevent this cancer from happening to you or help get a diagnosis as early as possible. Learn more at

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