Tammy McCalpin and her sisters, Nancy McCalpin and Sarah Seahorn, show off their support bracelets.

Colon cancer 5K run supports patients

The Run for Your Buns Colon Cancer Awareness 5K will be held at 7:30 a.m. April 1 in downtown Tupelo. Runners and walkers both are welcome. Among those the event supports is one woman from Red Bay who has experienced the struggle with colon cancer firsthand.

Fight hard; pray harder. That was the mantra and battle cry of Tammy McCalpin’s friends and family as she faced down colon cancer.

As recounted by North Mississippi Health Services, in January 2019 at the age of 53, McCalpin – who hails from Red Bay – started feeling sick and ended up visiting the North Mississippi Medical Center Emergency Department.

In short order, she had a colonoscopy and then surgery, and she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

She had her first chemo treatment March 1, 2019, the first day of Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Run for Your Buns was held later that month. McCalpin wasn’t up to participating, so she sat nearby at her office at Mitchell, McNutt & Sams while a huge group of her family and friends participated in the event in her honor.

She had her last chemo appointment that May. Her post-treatment PET scan came back all clear, and she was able to victoriously ring the bell at NMMC Cancer Care, signaling the end of her cancer treatment.

At the beginning of her cancer journey in January 2019, McCalpin said she felt tremendous peace.

“Right before surgery, my surgeon’s wife called him and said she didn’t know who he was about to operate on, but that they had stopped and prayed for her at church after a friend requested prayer,” she said. “The love and support that I felt from my community, my church, my family and friends was incredible. I think there was half of Red Bay in the waiting room.”

Almost immediately after her diagnosis, her sister’s children ordered blue bracelets for them with “Fight Hard. Pray Harder” on one side and “God’s got this” on the other.

“By the time I got home, there were a ton of people wearing them,” she said. “I can’t tell you how important it was for me to have this much support from people I love.”

In 2022 she walked the whole 3.1-mile Run for Your Buns course. Her sisters and other loved ones still wear their bracelets to remind them of her journey, and they all plan to walk the event again this year.

Run for Your Buns will be held at 7:30 a.m. April 1 at Fair Park in downtown Tupelo. Proceeds from the event benefit the North Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Care Fund, which supports cancer patients in the community.

Pre-registration cost is $25, and race-day registration is $35.

“Colon cancer continues to have a huge impact on our area and the people of Mississippi,” said gastroenterologist Stephen Amann. “We hope this event brings attention to the importance of colon cancer screening and raises funds for an important cause.”

The NMMC Cancer Care Fund is administered through the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi. The fund provides approximately $320,000 per year to more than 400 qualifying cancer patients. These funds help patients get much-needed pain and anti-nausea medications, nutritional supplements, transportation to treatment and other necessities.

To register, visit www.runsignup.com. For more information on HCF, visit www.nmhsfoundation.org.

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