Hetty Walker: Creating Chrissy’s Legacy
Hetty Walker lovingly caresses a photo of her beautiful blonde daughter Chrissy, recalling the promise she made to the 24-year-old as she bravely fought colon cancer: to raise awareness of the colon cancer that eventually stole her daughter’s life.
Just five months before her diagnosis, Chrissy had graduated cum laude from Ohio State. Chrissy, a quiet young woman who, in her mother’s words, “never did anything wrong, she was just a good person,” made an uncharacteristic jump into Mirror Lake after the ceremony to celebrate the achievement.
Chrissy earned a four-year scholarship through Honors and Scholars at Ohio State due to her exceptional academic record in high school. She’d been a volunteer and then student-employee at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center as she pursued her degree in allied medicine. The week before her diagnosis, she was offered her dream job at The Cleveland Clinic. After learning of her stage four colon cancer, Chrissy cried as she turned down the position. She elected instead to stay home with her family during treatment. It was the only time she cried during her year-and-a-half ordeal. Hetty and her husband John will never recover from the loss. Hetty describes grief as a dirty shirt that can never be shed. But beyond the love they share with their surviving son, Zachary, raising awareness—and money—for colon cancer research helps the family get through.
“Chrissy was not only my daughter,” says Hetty. “She was my friend. We promised her we’d do everything we could possibly do to help find a cure for this horrible disease.”
Since losing Chrissy in February 2012, the Walkers have already raised $50,000 in her memory. Much of that came through Pelotonia 2012 and the riders who joined the Chrissy’s Colonic Crusaders peloton (riding group).
Chrissy, who had thrived on biking and other exercise, would heartily approve. She was so honored when friends asked if they could ride for HER! She was able to attend the opening ceremony of Pelotonia 2011, nine months after diagnosis. She marveled at the enormity of the event, noting just how many people were affected by cancer. Although Chrissy had never been alone since her diagnosis, she expressed the feeling of community that Pelotonia provided.
Now, Hetty, an RN in Ohio State’s College of Medicine, continues to fulfill the promise she made to her daughter, reminding all that colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer behind lung cancer, and that if her beautiful daughter, so young and seemingly healthy, could be afflicted by cancer, anyone can.
This year, Chrissy’s family and friends are working to make her peloton even more successful. When they ride this August in her memory, they ride to eradicate colon cancer, hoping no other parent will lose a child to this terrible disease.
Chrissy’s Colonic Crusaders was formed in memory of Chrissy Walker and to continue the work she began. Chrissy lost her battle with colon cancer at age 24 one year ago just as she was poised to start her career and life as a young adult. Because she had no risk factors for this disease, she was motivated to participate in research and to advocate prevention and early diagnosis. It was Chrissy’s expressed wish to increase awareness of colon cancer prevention and research.