Valley woman fights for colon cancer awareness after husband's death

CHANDLER, AZ - A Valley woman is getting national attention for her efforts to help families fight colon cancer. 

She is one of just 25 people who will be featured in Times Square throughout March and she has a very personal connection to this national PSA.

The NASDAQ opening bell launched a message to "Fight with Courage" Wednesday, heading into Colorectal Cancer Awareness month.

"It just seemed silly to just go on and pretend it hadn't happened," said Julie Thomas, who lives in Chandler.

In 2011, Thomas' husband, Andrew, was diagnosed with colon cancer at just 37 years old. He died 15 months later, leaving Julie and their two young boys behind.

"We wanted to do something," she said. "Didn't want his death to be in vain."

Thomas has since re-married and welcomed two more boys into the family, but her late husband's legacy is still very much alive.

"I wanted the boys to have something to remember their dad by," she said. "I wanted people to keep saying his name."

The Andrew J. Somora Foundation supports families battling the disease in all sorts of ways. Thomas is also a trained ambassador with the nonprofit "Fight Colorectal Cancer," and has a prominent role in this year's national "One Million Strong" campaign. All of it hopes to bring as much attention as possible to a disease that is both treatable and preventable.

"If Andrew had heard of somebody in their thirties, that was having the same issues he was having and went to the doctor and it was cancer, he might have said, 'woah, maybe I should go to the doctor,'" Thomas said.

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